Land Trust Film Festival showcases young filmmakers and awards $8,000 in grants – Estes Park Trail-Gazette


The Estes Valley Land Trust (EVLT) has partnered with the Estes Park School District to host a Student Nature Film Festival event on April 19. Eligible juniors and seniors were invited to produce films related to nature and the outdoors, which would then be judged and screened at the festival. The filmmakers competed for three scholarships, including a grand prize of $5,000. The scholarships were funded by Bird & Jim and the Land Trust.

Seven films were submitted for consideration, and each highlighted the students’ passion and concern for environmental issues. The filmmakers shared captivating images and stories related to wildfires, climate change, sustainability, and more. The films were judged and screened in front of a private audience, and all filmmakers participated in an engaging panel discussion with the judges after the screening. The judging panel included local naturalist filmmaker Nick Molle, youth educator Steve Johnson, EVLT board member Amy Plummer, and Melissa Strong, co-owner of Bird & Jim and EVLT board member. . “The student films were exceptional. It was so impressive to see the thoughtfulness, dedication and passion of the high school students. I hope everyone takes a few minutes to see the award-winning films created by Estes Park seniors,” Melissa Strong shared.

The films were judged on several criteria, including complexity, originality, cinematography, as well as student responses during the panel discussion. After some deliberation, the judges selected the three winning films, which were produced by six students: Alec Throne (grand prize of $5,000); Sydney Lewelling, Kadynce Shoots and Lucy Scott (2nd prize of $2,000); and Ella Santagati and Bella Walker (3rd prize of $1,000). The decision to award the grand prize to Alec was unanimous among the judges. “Alec’s film displays a high degree of professional environmental filmmaking on every level of this essential message for today’s world. Alec guides us through an entertaining and enjoyable educational experience,” said Nick Molle.

Through this film festival and other youth programs, the land trust aims to foster the next generation of environmental stewards in the Estes Park community. “The festival was an opportunity for students to be creative and share their excitement and fears for the future of our planet with us,” said Jeffrey Boring, Executive Director. “Conserving the earth forever requires working with every generation and I was really impressed with all of the films.” The land trust also awarded an annual scholarship through an essay contest. This year’s essay grant ($1,000) was awarded to Joshua Landkamer.

The winning films and all film festival entries can now be viewed on the Land Trust’s website at

About the Estes Valley Land Trust

Founded in 1987 by residents of Estes Park, the Estes Valley Land Trust is a nationally recognized land conservation organization that has preserved nearly 10,000 acres of land and some of the Valley’s most iconic landscapes d’Estes. Over 400 members support the Estes Valley Land Trust each year and additional information is available at


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