‘The Next Generation of Conservation’: Highlighting the innovators in the UConn community 

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The University of Connecticut is an institution composed of an incredible number of intelligent, innovative and inspirational individuals. These trailblazers come from a number of different disciplines and backgrounds, diving into their respective interests using their unique skills to create projects that influence the world around them. 

This Thursday, at 8:00 p.m., some of these innovations will be highlighted in the documentary “The Next Generation of Conservation.” The student documentary showcases a number of sustainability projects being worked on right now in Storrs and around New England. 

The film in itself, is an innovation. As much as the documentary showcases the positive changes happening in the realm of conservation by UConn students, the camera could have easily been turned around, with the filmmakers as the subjects. 

“OUR GOAL FOR THE FILM WAS TO INTERVIEW A WIDE VARIETY OF YOUTH IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION FIELD, FROM INTERNS TO ACTIVISTS TO MENTORS, IN ORDER TO HEAR MORE ABOUT THE WORK THEY DO AND TO FILM THEM IN ACTION…”

Lauren Pawlowski

The Daily Campus was lucky enough to speak with “The Next Generation of Conservation” project manager and producer Lauren Pawlowski via email. 

“Our goal for the film was to interview a wide variety of youth in the environmental conservation field, from interns to activists to mentors, in order to hear more about the work they do and to film them in action,” Pawlowski explained. “[W]e filmed along the shores of Lake Ontario, off the coast of Cape Cod on a lobster fishing boat, and even from the top of a mountain in Acadia National Park. We hope that by sharing the stories of the younger generation it will allow viewers to picture themselves within the movement and be inspired to get involved, too.” 

Though we have finally reached screening day, this has been a long process for the documentary team. Pawlowski collaborated with editor Duy Le, photographer Skyler Kim and director Sarah Oxner to make this a possibility. 

“THIS WAS A LONG-TERM PROJECT, BUT I AM PROUD THAT WE HAVE SEEN IT THROUGH TO THE FINISH. IT MADE ME REALIZE THAT I COULD HANDLE MANAGING THE BUDGET, LOGISTICS, AND PLANNING PROCESS FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS…”

Lauren Pawlowski

“We started thinking about ideas for applying to the UConn IDEA Grant program in summer of 2020,” Pawlowski said. “We knew it was a great opportunity and we wanted to utilize that. Skyler and I have always been very passionate about environmental issues and sustainability, so we wanted to focus on that topic but in a way where we could combine the skills of all our group members to create something together. It’s been about a year and a half of working on this project, from applying to the grant program in fall 2020, planning for the project, filming in summer and fall 2021, and now hosting the showcase event for spring 2022.” 

Though the timeline and scope of this project was difficult, Pawlowski ultimately viewed the experience as a positive and enlightening one. 

“This was a long-term project, but I am proud that we have seen it through to the finish,” she said. “It made me realize that I could handle managing the budget, logistics, and planning process for something like this … Besides the personal skill development, I learned a lot from the people we connected with through this project … Traveling throughout the northeastern US region for filming made me realize that conservation issues are place-based, and locals are using their skills and resources to engage the community in addressing these issues.” 

“The Next Generation of Conservation” will premiere to the world today, Thursday, April 7 at 8:00 p.m. in the Konover Auditorium in the Dodd Center for Human Rights. There will also be a still photography exhibit and light refreshments provided after the screening. 

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