New Film on Kids Restoring Nature and vice versa

Kevin White and David Donnenfield, producers at Filmmakers Collaborative (, released their latest film in January entitled "A Simple Question—The Story of STRAW." STRAW, which stands for Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed, brings classrooms of school children out on the land to restore degraded habitat on both private and public properties. The program started 17 years ago in a 4th grade class when a student asked what the class could do to save endangered species. They decided to save the obscure CA freshwater shrimp, which inhabited only a handful of creeks in Marin, Napa, and Sonoma counties of northern California. The year that ensued changed everyone connected with the effort. It also changed the face of education for many teachers.

Today, the STRAW program not only conducts more than 30 professional-grade habitat restoration installations every year involving hundreds of students, it also conducts a 3-day summer in-service for teachers to support their instructional efforts. It works with local, regional, and federal agencies, with farmers and ranchers, and a host of other organizations to weave together a community effort on behalf of nature, kids, and well, everybody.

As filmmakers, we were so taken with the STRAW story, that we had to make a film about it. The film features Laurette Rogers, the 4th grade teacher in whose classroom it all started, as well as author, Richard Louv, and Professor Roger Hart, consultant to the U.N. on children and the environment. Teachers share their experiences, kids share their enthusiasm, joy, and concerns, and two students from the original class (now young adults) reflect on what an amazing opportunity a year protecting nature did for them. As Richard Louv puts it, "This isn't just about nature restoration, it's really about human restoration."

The 35-minute film has already won awards at prestigious film festivals. In April, it will be the focus of a symposium at California State University, Fullerton. And, it will be presented at educational and environmental conferences throughout the year. Greg Smith, Ed.D., Professor of Teacher Education, Lewis and Clark College has this to say: "'A Simple Question’ portrays a hope grounded in the ability of the natural world to re-grow itself when people–in this instance, school children–make it the object of their care and attention. My hope is that this film will inspire more educators across the U.S. and world to take similar actions within their own watersheds.”

To learn more about the film, or to purchase, visit the project website at

David Donnenfield

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