Local teens win award in forestry video contest

Scott Swanson

Aiden Shamek said he first got interested in the Thru the Trees video contest earlier this fall when his natural resources teacher, Blake Manley, offered extra credit to students who would participate.

“I thought, ‘Ah, that sounds pretty cool. I could make a little video and if I get a place, I could get some money too,” Shamek said last week after he learned the creation he and his friend Carsen Perry put together had won third place in the four-state competition.

The Thru the Trees competition was put on by a consortium of timber-related organizations, including Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Oregon Logging Conference and its foundation, and Oregon Women in Timber. It was open to 14- to 18-year-olds in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

Participants competed for a $1,000 first prize, $500 for second, $250 for third and $100 each to 12 other finalists.

The winners, including Shamek and Perry’s creation, are viewable at http://www.thruthetrees.org/videos.

Contest entrants had to come up with an original idea and couldn’t have professional assistance.

“The whole contest was a way to get kids in high school, teenagers, into the world of forestry,” Shamek said. “Basically, you had to do research about anything about forestry – different jobs, that kind of thing.”

He said he chose fire prevention because “I thought it would be a fun little thing” and recruited Perry to help.

“We have, like, the same ideas. I needed somebody to help me record, and think of something to put on the video.”

They came up with the idea of having Shamek personify an anchorman and a reporter who goes into the forest to interview a tree about fire safety.

Perry said he did all of the camera work and Shamek did all the acting.

“The rest was about 50-50, he said. “We had a fun time making it.”

“It was about how to prevent forest fires and how forest firefighters prevent fires, keep them from spreading,” Shamek said.

Perry said he is “passionate” about forestry after taking a class at the high school. He said he’s won another award, a poster contest in elementary school, for fire prevention.

Shamek said the biggest challenge was getting all their material to fit into the 90-second time limit.

“You had to have at least one interview. We had two,” he said – one at the Sweet Home branch of the Oregon Department of Forestry and another with Sweet Home High School teacher Tomas Rosa, a longtime summer firefighter.

“That’s where I got most of my stuff from,” Shamek said.

Perry shot footage with an iPhone and they edited it with an app, he said.

“We used some news theme music in the beginning.”

They also mixed in some humor, particularly at the end, which shows the erstwhile news anchor on the golf course, then being called out for appearing to be disinterested in forest fire safety.

“We thought it was pretty good,” Shamek said. “There were some funny points. I was pretty confident but I didn’t want to be too confident.”

He said he was happy to be in the top three.

“I feel like ours was probably the most funny out of the top three,” he said. “The others were probably more based on facts. I’m happy with third – out of four states.”

He said he’s thinking about making more videos.

“My dad told me about the ‘If I were Mayor’ thing in town,” he said. “I think it would be a cool to make a video of that.”