Wilder Nicholson: Hurricane Island Foundation

Wilder Nicholson: Hurricane Island Foundation

About the Project

CMG teamed up with the Hurricane Island Foundation (HIF) to launch a CMG Fellow position in August of 2016. CMG Fellows are funded by CMG with host organizations contributing a combination of matching funds, in kind support and staff time. In addition to allowing media makers to pursue their creative conservation work within an existing organization, the CMG Fellowship also aims to increase the capacity of host organization to communicate their message and to measure conservation impact. The goal of this CMG Fellowship at Hurricane Island is to produce several videos that capture the magic of the island as well as to work with the HIF team to develop their use of video throughout their outreach and marketing programs.

Our new CMG Fellow, Wilder Nicholson, will be spending some of August and September on Hurricane Island working with Phoebe Jekielek, HIF's Director of Marketing and Outreach, to document the Center's numerous educational programs. Wilder will work with the HIF team to develop new uses for video in their outreach plans, as well as work to build a small store of stock footage for the team's future use. Once the island is closed for the Winter, he'll spend the rest of his fellowship time working on post-production with input from the HIF team.

This CMG Fellowship is the third collaborative endeavor for HIF and CMG. Initially, Sam Hallowell, the Director for HIF's Center for Science and Leadership, attended a CMG Catalyst Workshop in 2015, with partial support from CMG and the Lewis Family Conservation Foundation. At the workshop, Sam was paired with a team of filmmakers and together they developed a concept for a social media video campaign. HIF then applied for and received a CMG Action Grant as a workshop follow-up to launch the campaign, including the creation of three short videos for students, teachers and parents that were distributed mainly through social media networks. Metrics of success included a targeted increase in the foundation's contact list database as well as a targeted number of active registrations for programs. Through the creation and distribution of these videos Hurricane Island Foundation discovered opportunities for a robust social media presence. With an expanded experience for what worked and what didn't, the next best step for HIF was to welcome a CMG Fellow to the island who could concentrate on capturing and editing video footage on a regular basis to provide ample content for additional video and social media campaigns. 

About the Fellow

Wilder Nicholson graduated from Bowdoin College where he studied Economics and Environmental Studies, while taking advantage of courses and fellowships to pursue film. He has a strong passion for the outdoors that has fostered an interest in working with land trusts and environmental non-profits. He received both the Joshua Chamberlain Scholarship and the Thomas McKinley Entrepreneur Grant from Bowdoin which have funded film projects that he has produced with non-profits in Iceland and India, respectively. These films have taken the form of documentaries and promotional videos, requiring Wilder to establish a project outline with a non-profit group, and then direct and shoot the film with his own creative freedom. Wilder also studied abroad with a CIEE Development and Globalization program in Thailand, working with a land reform NGO to produce a 17 minute documentary which he presented at a human rights festival.

During his final year at Bowdoin, Wilder pursued two independent studies in film production, one of which culminated in a documentary profiling two Maine fishermen. His films have addressed a range of issues, including sustainable energy, land conservation, eco-tourism and Maine's working waterfront. In additional to his CMG Fellowship, Wilder is currently working for the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust to produce a short documentary about the effects of climate change on Maine's farms.

About the Host

The Hurricane Island Foundation's mission is “to create and preserve an open and sustainable island community that supports and enhances the educational opportunities of youth from Maine and beyond.” The island is located 10 miles southeast of Rockland, Maine and two miles southwest of Vinalhaven in the Fox Islands archipelago, Penobscot Bay, Maine. The island measures about one mile by one-half mile, totaling 125 acres and is home to Hurricane Island's Center for Science and Leadership and Field Research Station. Both of these initiatives work together to help students and scientists participate in authentic, hands-on field science and collaborative leadership programs and experiences.  One of their multi-year visiting school groups is from the Marine Science Semester, a 12-college exchange program at the Coastal Studies Center of Bowdoin College.

Hurricane Island is also home to the Center for Science and Leadership (HICSL), a scientific and education community on Hurricane Island that provides experiential, hands-on education programs and research opportunities focusing on marine sciences, STEAM education, human ecology, sustainable living technology, citizen science initiatives, and leadership in environmental stewardship for all ages from middle school to adults. 

Project Updates & Milestones

Wilder began production on Hurricane Island in late August and continued production thru mid-October.  He recently finished 3 films, a series of timelapses, and Facebook and Instagram content.  Wilder and Phoebe agreed that "The goal of the media produced is to share why Hurricane Island is a unique place for science education and research, thereby generating more interest from teachers, students, scientists and other non-profits. The library of completed, ready-to-publish media is intended for multiple avenues: HICSL’s website, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. The hope is that the range of content–from videos about education programs and sustainable systems, to short ‘spots’, to blog updates–will capture the multifaceted and integrated nature of HICSL. The variety of formats provides viewers several ways to learn about Hurricane as well.The shorter videos intended for Facebook and Instagram include ten timelapses and eight short videos. The timelapses show HICSL's facilities, the quarry, the dock, night skies, and solar panels. The eight short videos share underwater diving, wildlife scenes, edible hikes, aerial footage of Hurricane Island, and includes a brief ‘spot’ about what makes Hurricane Island unique.

All in all, the media generated during the fellowship is over 20 minutes in total length, with seventy plus photographs to be used on HISCL's website and for their social media.  The 3 main short videos he created are about the Island's sustainable systems, science and research, and education programs. The Sustainable Systems video explains how energy independence is achieved on the island, and how sustainable systems contribute to the unique education experience. The video will be posted on the website’s About Us: Facilities page, giving viewers an inside tour of what to expect at Hurricane Island. The Science and Research video highlights the collaborative, applied science nature of HICSL research, as well as how current research projects–such as scallop aquaculture–lend itself as an education opportunity. The video will be posted under the website’s Science and Research page. The video about education programs, A Day in the Life, aims to convey students’ experience including traveling to Hurricane Island, interacting with the Island community, learning in outdoor classrooms, and participating in leadership building activities like rock climbing. This film will be posted under the site’s Programs tab. These videos will also be used during conferences and presentations during school visits. Below are his 3 completed films:

Wilder Nicholson / Sustainable Systems

Wilder Nicholson / Science and Research

Wilder Nicholson / Day in the Life- Schools