ILF video 'Out to the Lakes' wins Iowa Motion Picture Association awards

June 14, 2012

AMES, IOWA —A provocative and engaging 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 (ILF) film encourages viewers to think about water quality and their personal relationship with their local lake or water body.
"We are really excited to receive three awards from IMPA. This is the most ambitious film project we have done and it is great to be recognized for it," says Jacqueline Comito, director of the film. "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 water bodies."
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 concern for the lake that has brought them so 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 coming from nearby fields at rates higher than what should be naturally occurring. The challenge to the viewer is to recognize water quality problems and to reconnect with their lake in order to help improve water quality.
Comito, ILF program manager, spent a lot of time on Black Hawk Lake throughout her life and was inspired by the lake to make this final video in the series "A Culture of Conservation." The video was first screened in September 2011 to an audience of 350 Soil and Water Conservation District commissioners and government agency representatives at the Conservation Districts of Iowa’s annual conference in Des Moines.
"We heard quite a bit of laughter during the premiere, which is great, because humor is a powerful tool. But after it is over, we are left with a somber portrait of the state of our environment in Iowa," Comito emphasizes. "Until we understand what is happening in terms of our water quality, soil quality and climate variations, our lakes and water systems will continue to degrade."
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 Ames group Joyful Hearts. The film uses watercolor illustrations created by Iowa State University 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 boating, swimming, the wildlife, the calmness, the beauty and the fun!"
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 Department of Natural Resources, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. The film offers insight to what Iowans know, or don’t know, about water and water quality.
Copies of "Out to the Lakes" are available at no charge by request; email ILF at: or by mail: Iowa Learning Farms, 219A Davidson Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011. Please include a mailing address in the request. The film can also be viewed in its entirety on Iowa Learning Farms’ YouTube Channel: For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit the website: /ilf/.
Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of residue management and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable. Iowa Learning Farms is a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319); in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa, the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Water Center.