Inspiring Activism

Pack Rat hosts Wild and Scenic Film Fest


Pack Rat Outdoor Center will host the Wild and Scenic Virtual Film Fest on Dec. 4, the third year the popular Fayetteville outdoor store has done so. The film festival itself started 18 years ago in an attempt to highlight “inspiring activism through film and art,” according to its website.

“I think it’s an important event, because it’s a way to showcase education about our natural spaces and activism in the outdoor industry through the medium of film,” says Libby Young, who is coordinating the event for Pack Rat. “It can inspire people to act on their own, and it can help them learn about things they weren’t aware of — and it elicits good conversation for people to have about things going on globally with our environment.”

While previous festivals have been held at the Town Center on the Fayetteville square, this year’s fest is virtual, starting with a live event Dec. 4. That live event and the films can be viewed online until Dec. 9, and Young says viewers are purchasing one ticket per film, instead of one ticket per person — so a family of four, for example, would just need one ticket to view each film.

Proceeds from the virtual festival will benefit the NWA Land Trust, an organization whose goal is to “preserve and enhance the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas through the permanent protection of land.”

“They’re doing a lot of really good work with the protection and preservation of a lot of our public lands in Northwest Arkansas,” notes Young. “They’re acquiring some of the land that was private and making that public for the use of Northwest Arkansas residents, and preserving a lot of the green spots, which is awesome. We’re the ‘Natural State’ for a reason, and they’re fighting to keep it natural.”

In “Mi Mama,” one of the films featured in Pack Rat’s Wild and Scenic Film Festival, Nadia Mercado tells the story of growing up in a working-class community with her single mother, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic.
(Courtesy Photo)

NWA Land Trust Executive Director Terri Lane will be a featured guest speaker during the festival, joining other Northwest Arkansas environmental action luminaries like Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan, the Arkansas Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit’s Brett DeGregorio and Tim Scott, assistant superintendent of Devil’s Den State Park. Because the festival is virtual, East Detroit beekeepers Tim Paule and Nicole Lindsey of the Detroit Hives will also appear as featured speakers.


Wild and Scenic Virtual Film Fest

WHEN — Live online event, 7 p.m Dec. 4; recorded version and films, Dec. 5-9

WHERE — Pack Rat Outdoor Center online

COST — $10-$110




Wild and Scenic Virtual Film Fest


Movies for the festival are chosen based on their ability to impart “an urgent call to action, encouraging festivalgoers to learn more about what they can do to save our threatened planet,” according to the Wild and Scenic Film Festival website. Pack Rat’s virtual event will be screening 10 films that include the following:

“Detroit Hives” — East Detroit urban beekeepers Tim Paule and Nicole Lindsey are a young couple working to bring diversity to the field of beekeeping and create opportunities for young Detroit natives to overcome adversity.

“Daniel” — Every day you can see Daniel riding his bike along Highway 50. While he’s out there, he’s picking up trash and doing his part to make the Lake Tahoe area better for everyone. Daniel nearly died as a child from a fall and was in a coma for eight months, and although he still suffers from traumatic brain injury, that hasn’t stopped him from making a difference.

“Sniper” — In New Zealand, Yellow-eyed Penguin numbers have dwindled. Finding these penguins in the dense bush to monitor and conserve the population is tricky. But former ranger Leith Thomson has a way: Sniper. She is one of the 80 certified Conservation Dogs in New Zealand. Now every penguin counts, and Sniper is on an adventure to protect these critically endangered birds.

“There’s Something in the Water” — Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in Texas, but its delicate eco-system is threatened by a seemingly unstoppable invasive species of floating fern: Giant Salvinia. “There’s Something in the Water” is an eight-minute animated documentary featuring interviews with people who live and work on the lake, demonstrating the damage that has been caused, and how everyone can work together to try and fix it.

“Who’s Your Farmer” — Farming is a practice that impacts our health, our environment, our communities and our world. Knowing from where our food really comes and how safely it is grown is becoming increasingly difficult. This film explores farming in Alabama through the eyes of local farmers all across the state that care about the land, the water and the people they feed.

“Mi Mama” — Nadia Mercado grew up in a working-class community with her single mother, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, and three sisters. In this film, Nadia recounts the ways that her mother helped shape the woman she is today: a cardiac nurse, an outdoor athlete and a woman who is dedicated to helping the Latinx and POC outdoor communities.

“(Re) Connecting Wild” — This is the remarkable story of the decade-long effort by the Nevada Department of Transportation and its partners to improve human safety by reconnecting a historic mule deer migration that crosses over both US 93 and I-80 in rural Elko County. Witness the wildlife crossing structures along I-80 from construction to the restoration of safe passage for migratory mule deer to more than 1.5 million acres of summer and winter habitat.

“Herd Impact” — North Texas couple Deborah Clark and Emry Birdwell let nature dictate how they graze their cattle. They are having tremendous success in regenerating their land and their lives, providing a healthy habitat for migratory birds while raising one of the largest herds of cattle in Texas.

“Spawning Hope” — Coral biologists are concerned about the genetic health of many endangered coral. “Spawning Hope” follows a team of scientists as they attempt to use cryopreserved coral sperm to introduce coral DNA to new populations of elkhorn coral. If this technique works, it could have lasting impacts on how conservationists are able to protect and restore endangered corals from near extinction.

Categories: Cover Story