Iowa Learning Farms’ Video ‘Out to the Lakes’ Wins Awards

AMES, Iowa —The film “Out to the Lakes” recently received awards of achievement in the documentary and educational production categories and an award of excellence in music from the Iowa Motion Picture Association. The Iowa Learning Farms film encourages viewers to think about water quality and their personal relationship with their local lake or water body.  

shooting Iowa Learning Farms film footageThe 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 viewers is to recognize water quality problems and to reconnect with their lake to help improve water quality.

“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,” said Jacqueline Comito, ILF program manager and director of the film.

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 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: contact ILF by email at or by U.S. mail at Iowa Learning Farms, 219A Davidson Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA  50011. Please include a mailing address in the request. The film  also can be viewed in its entirety on Iowa Learning Farms’ YouTube Channel:  For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit the website,

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