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LaMoure students place third in C-SPAN StudentCam competition

Evan Kritzberger
Makayla Jones, Rose Wendel and Molly Musland

Makayla Jones, Rose Wendel and Molly Musland will take home a $750 cash prize.

Last fall, a high school social science teacher in LaMoure gave his students a project to complete instead of a final exam. The assignment? Submit a video entry for the C-SPAN StudentCam Competition.

Evan Kritzberger is in his first year teaching at LaMoure.

"They had to make a video, but they did not have to submit it to the competition. These three girls were one of the groups who did decide to submit it. Every year, they ask a different question - and this year, it was 'how does the federal government impact your life?'"

The three students – Rose Wendel, Makayla Jones and Molly Musland, decided to explore how cattle ranching has been impacted through vertical integration, which has monopolized the industry. Rose’s father is a cattle rancher just outside LaMoure, and was featured in the film. He and some other ranchers are starting their own packing and distribution plant.

"He sat down and explained to me how it's such a changing part of especially the rancher's world, with how commercial packing plants are getting very large, starting to monopolize, and impacting how we do our business and making it more difficult for us."

The students say the project took much of the month of December to complete. They shot all the interviews on their phones, and then used a mobile app to edit the video together.

Makayla Jones says she and her fellow students were in disbelief when they learned their film took third place in the competition.

"My dad sent me the link that says that we won, and I clicked on it - and I saw our names, and it said that we won. Right away I called Rose, and I was like - 'you will never believe this, guess what! We got third place at the national level!' We were freaking out."

The students are being awarded $750 for the film. Jones says she plans to use her winnings for hotel rooms when she attends the Class B state basketball tournament. Rose Wendel just purchased a goat, and says the money will come in handy with that. And Molly Musland says she’s excited to go shopping.

But ultimately, the students are most pleased about the opportunity to shed light on an important issue facing ranchers in the Midwest. Rose Wendel explains.

"We actually got to communicate with an anti-trust lawyer with 51 years of experience, and he sat down and talked to us about how monopolization comes to be, and all this amazing stuff. It really was a learning experience, and its just having a better understanding about how our cattle markets are changing, and what we can do about it and bring awareness to it. And this undoubtedly has brought the most awareness that I could have ever asked for."

The film, "Vertically Challenged: Our Beef Industry and Their Struggle" can be seen here - https://www.viddler.com/v/14657499