An eighth grader from New York created an award-winning documentary about Rachel Carson with a bit of help from Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.
Nicole Chiang, a student entering Guilderland High School in Albany County this fall, became interested in the adverse effects of pesticides when she volunteered at the Farnsworth Middle School Pine Bush Butterfly Station. Last summer there weren’t any butterflies at the station, although there were plenty in previous years, she said.
Nicole, 14, learned that the decline was attributed to herbicide use. That prompted her to choose Rachel Carson’s work against the indiscriminate use of pesticides for a National History Day video competition called Leadership and Legacy.
During her reporting, she learned of Michigan State University ornithologist George Wallace’s research that informed Carson’s book, “Silent Spring.” And she discovered the Knight Center documentary, “Dying to be heard” about Wallace and his impact on that seminal publication credited with helping launch the environmental movement.
Nicole’s 10-minute documentary, “Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: A voice that could not be silenced,” won first place in a regional competition in March and second in a state competition in June.
Her annotated bibliography credits retired MSU professor Richard Snider, Michigan State University and the Knight Center documentary. She interviewed Snider by email about his recollections of Wallace and used clips from “Dying to be heard.”
Nicole is interested in biology and the environment and hopes to pursue a career in science in college.
Judging by her work at the top of this article, she would do well in an environmental journalism program.
The Knight Center’s “Dying to be heard” is below.