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ILF film wins picture awards

The film “Out to the Lakes” recently earned accolades from the Iowa Motion Picture Association. The film received Awards of Achievement in the documentary and educational production categories, and an Award of Excellence in music. The Iowa Learning Farms film encourages viewers to think about water quality and their personal relationship with their local lake or waterbody.

“We are excited to receive three awards from IMPA. This is the most ambitious film project we’ve done, and it’s great to be recognized for it,” says Jacqueline Comito, director. “It is my hope that the awards will bring new audiences to the work and increase Iowans’ awareness of the stresses on our state’s waterbodies.”

The case study presented in the film is Black Hawk Lake in west-central Iowa. Iowa’s most southern glacial lake, Black Hawk Lake is used mainly for recreational activities including swimming, boating and fishing. On screen, several local residents share their experiences and concerns for the lake, which they say has brought them much personal joy. Even though the film focuses on the happenings at one particular lake, the same sentiments can be applied to many lakes in Iowa and the Midwest.

Like Black Hawk, lakes throughout the Midwest have been periodically closed due to high bacteria or algae levels. Some lakes are filling up with sediment from nearby fields at rates higher than what should be naturally occurring. The challenge to viewers is to recognize water quality problems and to reconnect with their lake to help improve water quality.

Comito, who is ILF program manager, spent time on Black Hawk Lake throughout her life and was inspired to make this final video in the series “A Culture of Conservation.” The video was first screened in September to 350 Soil and Water Conservation District commissioners and government agency representatives at the Conservation Districts of Iowa annual conference.

“We heard quite a bit of laughter during the premiere, which is great, because humor is a powerful tool. But after it’s over, we are left with a somber portrait of the state of our environment in Iowa,” Comito says. “Until we understand what’s happening in terms of water quality, soil quality and climate variations, our lakes and water systems will continue to degrade.”

Iowans, not actors, featured

ILF team member Ann Staudt served as music and art director, and Des Moines resident Jon Anderson produced the film. All the music is original, composed by Staudt, Todd Stevens and Anthony Stevens, and performed by the Ames group, Joyful Hearts. The film uses illustrations created by ISU student Jessica Willemssen.

“The music was created in tandem to the documentary development and was specifically written to capture the mood of the different themes that emerge in the film,” says Staudt. “Along with the visual images, the title track, “Out to the Lakes,” written by Todd Stevens, does a fantastic job of showing what we love about lakes.”

The film features Iowans, not actors, who care deeply about where they live and their local water quality. It also features environmental experts from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa.

Copies of “Out to the Lakes” are available free by sending email to ILF at or mail to Iowa Learning Farms, 219A Davidson Hall, ISU, Ames, IA 50011. Include a mailing address in the request.

The film can also be viewed on Iowa Learning Farms’ YouTube Channel by going online to

Source: Iowa Learning Farms


ACTION! Ingrid Gronstal Anderson (left) and videographer Jon Anderson shoot film footage at Spirit Lake for the Iowa Learning Farms’ video “Out to the Lakes.” The award-winning film explores the human relationship with lakes and local waterbodies and was filmed entirely in Iowa.

This article published in the July, 2012 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.