Digital media camp encourages high school students to experiment and develop new skills

Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 9:30am

By Amber Rodriguez

Nebraska’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications (CoJMC) “Do from Day One” motto applies not only to current students—it also applies to high school students looking for ways to create and experiment with media content.

From June 12-17, nine students developed new skills and explored career paths in news by participating in a Big Red Summer Academic Camp. The digital media summer camp was organized by Nebraska 4-H.

The digital media camp crew.

These summer camps give high school students and recent graduates the chance to  experience university life and investigate potential careers. They get to do hands-on activities with industry experts, connect with current college students and learn new skills to advance their talents.

At CoJMC, campers immersed themselves in the industry by participating in workshops, learning to use media equipment and by putting together a multimedia project. Students worked in teams to create an interactive story-telling website with photos, videos, writing and other forms of unique media for two on-campus clients, The Sheldon Museum of Art and Morrill Hall.

Throughout the week, students learned different aspects of the media industry with workshops led by CoJMC faculty and professionals. Katie Krcmarik, an associate professor of practice in advertising and public relations and communication design, kicked off the week with a design thinking workshop that taught students how to create good stories.

Assistant professor of practice in journalism Jill Martin led a writing workshop and had the students practice basic interview skills with CoJMC’s assistant director of recruitment Alex Fernando.

For Millard North senior Gracie Brueckner, this workshop was a camp highlight because she learned how to conduct a good interview.

“I like asking people questions and finding out they care so much about something that they want to share it with people,” Brueckner said. “Honestly I think my favorite part of this week was probably our interview with the man, the myth, the mustache - Alex. It was fun just to hear about his story and who he is.”

CoJMC’s associate professor in broadcasting Rick Alloway led an audio workshop and taught the students how to use the equipment in the audio booths and podcast studio. He also gave a tour of the 90.3 KRNU campus radio station.

Associate dean for academic programs Adam Wagler and journalism professor of practice Matt Waite demonstrated how virtual reality (VR) and drone technology can be used as a tool for storytelling in the media world. Each student had the opportunity to pilot a drone and play games with CoJMC’s VR headsets.

Digital media camp students waving at the drone.

Broadcasting associate professor of practice Alan Eno led a photo and video workshop to show students how to properly use equipment. He also shared his tips for creating quality content for multimedia websites that the students used when they built their clients’ websites. The websites house a video tour of Morrill Hall, audio clips so viewers can learn Japanese with the Miss Mie exhibit and stop-motion videos of the Sheldon sculptures.

High school senior Xander Monson, from Lourdes Central Catholic in Nebraska City, attended last year’s camp and enjoyed it so much he came back this year to learn new techniques and connect with fellow media enthusiasts.

“I liked that I got to meet all the professors and meet people that share my same interests,” Monson said. “I worked with equipment that I didn’t think that I was that good at, but I found out that I do have the talent, I just need to keep practicing.”

CoJMC ambassador Faith Worden created a social media workshop for the students to learn about branding, research and strategies for developing content on new platforms. She also shared about her social media internship experience with international fashion designer Chrystel Anne.

As the camp’s digital media director, Fernando also led a presentation workshop for students to learn tricks in public speaking and professional introductions for jobs and internships.

After combining all the skills the students learned from faculty, student ambassadors and various workshops, they created a capstone presentation to showcase the client websites for their friends and family. 

Students presenting their multimedia website.

North Platte high school sophomore Linkon Kuhn liked seeing the media elements come together in a storytelling experience. His dream is to become a digital content creator so he enjoyed seeing how these skills can be applied in his future career.

“One of my favorite things was definitely not only learning how to film a story and create it but also learning how to make an engaging story that captures your audience,” Kuhn said. “We learned a lot of important skills, but at the same time the camp directors made it really fun which made it the best possible experience,” said Kuhn.

In the last part of their capstone presentation the students shared their podcast episode where the nine students shared about their week of activities. The group episode recapped their week of crazy stories, downfalls and inside jokes.

Digital media camp leaders Worden and Amber Rodriguez loved guiding the students and quickly bonded with the group. Both were impressed by their adaptability, professionalism and bold attitudes.

“This digital media camp was truly so special because the kids got to dive into their career interests,” Worden said. “They're just really smart, curious and creative kids and it was so exciting to see them grow throughout the week.”

On the last day Fernando congratulated the creative talent and hard work each student brought to the camp and gave them some final words of advice.

Students in one of the digital media workshops.

“All the really cool elements in their digital media projects is something that we look for in the college because we are changing all the time,” he said. “We need students like them to come in and change the game because it's gonna be a lot different tomorrow than what we’ve got going on today.”