Iowa Learning Farm offers new video ‘Troubled Waters’

AMES, IOWA— There is a river that flows through the lives of everyone. Rivers are the veins of the land and an indicator of the health of its people. A new Iowa Learning Farm (ILF) video, "Troubled Waters," explores rivers and the human relationship with them.

Winner of an Iowa Motion Picture Association (IMPA) award for excellence in educational production, "Troubled Waters" calls attention to human attitudes and treatment of rivers, both good and bad. ILF Associate Manager Jacqueline Comito and Jon Anderson produced the video.

The film highlights several Iowans who share their personal relationships with their local river or stream. Eric Boehm, from northeast Iowa Turkey River Watershed, comments about his fondness for Brush Creek on the film. "It’s a good place to come down to and recharge your batteries, just the beauty of it... even though I’ve been here 30 years, the newness hasn’t worn off."

The film also talks about how humans have altered streams and the consequences from these changes. People have tried to straighten and deepen stream channels only to find that rivers need to meander and go where they want to go.

"The river is totally different than it was when I was a kid," says Jerry Andreson, a farmer in the Wapsipinicon River Watershed. "We don’t leave much grass out there anymore; it’s all corn and beans, very little livestock…We’ve built a lot of parking lots and all that water has to go somewhere, none of that seeps into the ground. The changes in society have changed the process of water moving down the channels."

A portion of the video explores the treatment that rivers have received by humans. Iowa State University professor Jim Colbert takes his students to the Skunk River regularly. "Their most common comment is that they just can’t believe there is so much trash in the river," says Colbert. "Every piece of trash has its own ugly little story. Some of it happens on purpose, some of it is an accident."

The film reminds us that water is life to all beings, not just humans. "By focusing on only what is valuable to humans, I believe has led to some of the environmental problems we have today," says Mary Koester, a teacher at Kuemper Catholic Schools in Carroll. "If we focus on the things on this Earth that are to be used by all living things, we would take better care of them. And it would be better for all of us in the end."

"Troubled Waters" also won IMPA awards for the script and the original music score composed by Ann Staudt and Todd Stevens. "The music score is really good. While the words and images are powerful, the music brings out the emotions of the moments," says Comito. "It was helpful that Ann spent some time on location, watched much of the raw footage, and helped me with the script."

Our relationship with rivers is intimate. Many appreciate the flowing waters for what they are and what they are capable of doing; many take rivers for granted. The film serves to launch dialogue about the issues that affect our waters, asks the viewer to appreciate rivers, to acknowledge their importance and their power and hopefully will inspire them to make some changes in their lives.

"Troubled Waters" is filmed entirely on Iowa’s waters and is approximately 26 minutes long. To request a free copy of this DVD, email: ilf@iastate.edu. Music from "Troubled Waters" will be featured on musical group Joyful Hearts’ new CD "Back to Our Roots" available at www.smilingstonesoup.com.

Iowa Learning Farm is a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources; in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa and the Iowa Farm Bureau.

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