WEST GLACIER – Sarah Moody certainly isn’t afraid to try new things, which may be one reason the Glacier National Park seasonal ranger is now a filmmaker of sorts as well.
Moody’s first video, “A Changing Landscape: Glacier’s Warming Climate,” is now available for viewing on the Internet.
The 2004 Loyola Sacred Heart High School graduate says a talk by Glacier Superintendent Jeff Mow on the National Park Service’s response to climate change motivated her to get involved – although she didn’t know she would wind up producing and editing a video at the time.
“I went to Jeff Mow’s lecture, and talked to him afterward,” Moody says. “He directed me to Melissa Sladek at the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center.”
Sladek, the center’s science communication specialist, told Moody they were interested in using multimedia more to spread the word about the effects of climate change.
“And so I agreed to help, with no video experience,” Moody says.
The Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center helped out, awarding Moody its Jerry O’Neal National Park Service Student Fellowship, which provides education assistance for students seeking to understand natural and cultural resource issues and how they intersect with human values.
She also took a filmmaking class at the University of Montana, where she was pursuing a master’s degree in environmental studies, and teamed with friend and photographer Stephanie Oster to work on the video.
“It’s a tough subject, emotionally and mentally,” Moody says.
But Glacier Park offers some of the most visible evidence that the climate is warming. Home to 150 glaciers in 1850, before the park was even created, the number has dwindled to just 25.
All of those are predicted to be gone in the next 15 years, if not sooner.
“A Changing Landscape” shows historic photographs of Glacier’s glaciers, and what those areas look like today.
“Upper Grinnell Lake was just a glacier at one time,” interpretive ranger Bob Schuster says in the video, “but it’s receded quite a bit and now this big lake has formed as the glacier has melted away.”
Several of the people interviewed by Moody and Oster note that Glacier is one of the easiest places to understand climate change, because people understand that “ice melts when things warm up.”
“Ecosystem impacts are more profound than the visual loss of losing glaciers,” Mow says. “Although fossil records show that many species have adapted over time to changes in climate, the rapid rate of climate warming we’re currently experiencing is what will be challenging for many species.”
Moody and Oster filmed the video on their days off from their regular park jobs in the summer of 2014, and spent last winter editing it down to its 5 1/2-minute running length.
In today’s world of short attention spans, Moody worries the video isn’t short enough. She’s still at work editing a second three- to five-minute video on what climate change will mean to Glacier’s watershed.
The experience has landed Moody opportunities at an international conference on changing communications in a tech-savvy world in Copenhagen, Denmark, and an adventure filmmakers’ workshop in Banff, Alberta.
Diving into something new is old hat for Moody, who was an all-state girls’ basketball player at Loyola Sacred Heart.
When the Minnesota college where she went to play basketball unceremoniously dropped its program in mid-season, Moody transferred to the University of Puget Sound.
And when she and the basketball coach there didn’t see eye to eye, Moody walked away from hoops, but quickly decided “I’d go crazy without some sport in my life.”
So she joined Puget Sound’s rowing team, and became an All-American there.
“I wasn’t sure how I’d do,” she says, “but I found out if you’re strong and work your butt off, you’ll be successful.”
She also earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. She coached rowing after college, but summer jobs in Glacier and on fire crews in the Tetons helped her decide she wanted to try yet something else new, and Moody enrolled in graduate school at UM with an eye on a master’s degree in environmental studies.
Her studies helped her land her latest role as a filmmaker. “A Changing Landscape” can be seen on websites for both the National Park Service and the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center, as well as online with this story on Missoulian.com.