Even in a place so naturally beautiful as Montana, it is easy to forget the connections one has with nature while being constantly bombarded with technology. But TERRA: The Nature of Our World is helping bridge that gap. TERRA is a primarily student-run organization connected to the MSU Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program, with the goal of bringing science and nature films to the public.
Starting in 2005, TERRA began creating podcasts and running a website, Facebook account, Twitter account and YouTube channel. The films provided through these forms of media are eclectic in many ways. Some of them are drawn from MSU’s undergraduate and graduate programs, others are from independent filmmakers and museums or other non-profit organizations. The films also vary in form, using everything from nature shots to animation clips. Despite the diversity of content provided by TERRA, the films remain consistent in the high quality of information they contain. This information can be related to anything from buffalo to the entire universe, since TERRA sets no specific qualifications for the films other than good content about nature.
Senior producers Emily Narrow and Taylor Johnson have been working at TERRA for about a year and a half. They speak passionately about the organization and its success. Johnson stated that, “This is a labor of love,” which is easy to see from the quality of the website alone.
Though no one at TERRA is paid to do their part, the content throughout all the media is above par. This may be due in part to the non-monetary rewards of working at TERRA. In Narrow’s words, “It’s just really great to put stuff out there that you know people are enjoying.” She said that each episode of their podcast gets about 8000 views over the course of a few weeks. Among the most popular videos are “TRUST Alaska,” winner of the 2012 Panda Award for Campaign Film, and “Earth & Moon: A Planetary Fairytale.”
This year, TERRA was nominated in the green category of the Pixel Awards. This award recognizes apps and websites in 24 different categories on excellence in innovation, content, navigation, visual design, functionality and overall experience. Judges pick one of the nominees in each category and the public picks another by voting online.
“As TERRA has progressed, so has the language of storytelling,” Johnson said. From the modern products TERRA has produced and the award it is currently nominated for, it seems as though this organization has not only kept up with the times, but also become one of the pioneers in its field by simply trying to take a unique approach to the tasks at hand.
If you want to check out TERRA you can go to lifeonterra.com, subscribe to their free podcast, or visit them on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. If you appreciate the content, you can vote for them here until the polls close Jan. 25.