Everyone wins when local organizations and schools collaborate on real-world projects. The Marion Fire Department recently provided a project opportunity to students that not only highlighted the students’ creativity but also enriched their learning experience.
The Marion Fire Department’s largest class of 9 professional recruits completed their Fire Academy in November. Prior to starting the academy, the Fire Department and city staff determined they would like to create a video that included interviews with recruits and MFD staff as well as photos and video footage of the recruits’ training in the academy.
Amber Bisinger, Communications Manager for the City of Marion, had previously partnered with Linn-Mar’s Venture Academics project-based learning program to work with students and reached out to Venture Partnership Coordinator, Elyssa McDowell to explore the idea of students completing the video project.
McDowell took the request to Venture Digital Design instructor, Chris Thilges. At that time, the Venture Digital Design students were already at capacity with project work, but Thilges was also teaching a digital photography class. It was decided that the digital photography students would tackle the project.
The collaborative effort kicked off with meetings with Fire Chief, Tom Fagan and Battalion Training Chief, Kale McBurney to outline project deliverables. This was followed by a tour of Station 1 for participating students. Students used their class time to head out to training sites to capture photo and video footage.
Over the course of the next 9 weeks, students captured hundreds of images. Students worked to edit and pare down their work and completed a slide deck to be used during the graduation ceremony, as well as the video highlighting training and individual interviews with recruits. Several students and their parents attended the graduation ceremony and were recognized for their work. Students gained valuable experience working on the project and an appreciation for the work that firefighters do in our community.
Thilges was thankful for the opportunity provided to his students. He stated,” The students took ownership of the project early on and found themselves immersed in authentic and meaningful photography work. They applied their understanding of the camera and composition to capture powerful moments throughout the recruit training.” Working in a professional context empowered these students to experience learning connected to the community.