The River Forest eighth grader received an honorable mention for the movie Fish
Local River Forest eighth grader Andrew Older took his passion for fishing and turned it into the subject of his video submission for the One Earth Young Filmmakers Contest – where he received an Honorable Mention Award.
The 13-year-old Roosevelt Middle School student created a three-minute film called “Invasive Fish in the Des Plaines River” to explain how invasive gobies and Asian carp arrive in the river and how they crowd out native species. Andrew has included illustrations and maps to explain how invasive species were introduced: gobies were introduced from Eastern Europe via ballast water from international ships traveling the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes, while Asian carp traveled up the Mississippi River from southern waters where they are used To control algal blooms, and the rapid increase in the density of algae in the water.
“Through this film festival, I hope to share my interest in native fish and their habitat, which are threatened by invasive species,” Andrew said in his participation in the competition.
An avid fisherman with a passion for the outdoors, Andrew was an active member of the Roosevelt Fishing Club and participated on the Trout Team. After learning about the competition through Roosevelt science teacher Corey Kadlec, Andrew thought about different topics he could focus on. After identifying a goby at a fishing club, Andrew knew he had found the subject of his film.
“I’ve always thought that invasive species occur in places around the world, but I’ve never gotten so close to them where I could really see their impact,” Andrew said. “I wanted to know more about how this affected all the other species, the environment, and what it could mean for the ecosystem in that area.”
Andrew set out to learn more about the fish in Thatcher Woods, his local fishing spot, and submitted his film in March.
In his video, Andrew also provides information about different ways people can help with population control, which includes participating in fishing events aimed at catching gobies and carp and eating more carp, because as he mentioned in the video, it is He doesn’t like fish tacos. Andrew also included information about various organizations, including the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Forest Conservancy, where people can donate to the cause.
“By raising awareness about invasive species and taking steps to prevent their growth, we are ensuring that the next generation will have fun memories of catching native fish,” Andrew said in the video.
Founded in 2013, the Filmmakers Competition was originally a national competition but expanded internationally for the first time in 2023. This year it received 403 entries from around the world from young people aged 8 to 25 years.
The competition accepts submissions for animated or stop-motion films, and the films were judged by a jury of 32 experts in the field of sustainability and film.
Out of 403 entries from 45 countries and 37 US states, Andrew received an honorable mention along with 11 other directors.
“I was really excited,” Andrew said. “And I was excited to hear how many applications were submitted. I was really proud of myself.”
Caroline Older, Andrew’s mother, who helped Andrew stay organized during the film’s production, said she was very excited and proud of her baby.
“This is a great way to make kids feel like they can make a difference,” Older said. “It gives them a much wider audience than if they were posting on YouTube themselves. The platform allows the voices of students in different countries to be heard, which is really exciting.”
For Andrew, being able to combine his passion with competition has been a lot of fun, and he is open to pursuing other projects such as a filmmaking competition.
Through his work on the film competition, Andrew was put in touch with local organization Deep Roots Project, which educates local people on how to grow their own vegetables in raised beds to promote a more equitable and sustainable food system, and he films their garden all the time. summer.
While Andrew is honored by the praise his film has received, he believes that anyone, regardless of age, can be an advocate.
“It’s really easy to speak up and spread the word about the environment,” Andrew said. “I think anyone can do it.”
Andrew’s film, along with the other competition winners, will be screened on Sunday, September 17, during this year’s Global Awards Gala held at the Gene Siskel Film Center on State Street in Chicago. The event, which is free to the public, begins at 11:30 a.m. and can be streamed online.