While the organization traditionally has held the environmental-themed film festival in August at a local movie theater, Executive Director Jill Boullion said this year the BLC decided to move the annual event up to June when children are not heading back to school.
"Theaters could possibly be open by then and operating, but we just felt like people weren't really going to be really comfortable sitting in a theater with 200 other people and that it would be safer for our members and friends if we could find a way to bring the festival to them at home," she said.
To find a solution, Boullion said she reached out to the festival's producer, the South Yuba River Citizens League, which already had a virtual festival option available that is broken down into three age-appropriate educational programs: kindergarten-fourth grade, fifth grade-eighth grade and ninth-12th grade. Each program is roughly 44-50 minutes long.
"We wanted to do that because it's getting towards the end of the school year, and we know parents have been home with their kids and have probably been a lot more involved with their schoolwork than they ever have before," Boullion said. "So we thought that this would be a great way to give them some really cool educational content that would maybe take the heat off the parents a little bit."
The virtual festival is free to anyone who is interested, and each of the three video packages will be available to watch from May 11-15. To receive a link to view the films, Boullion said viewers only need to sign up for the Bayou Land Conservancy's newsletter by clicking here.
"We normally have attendance between 200-300 people at the theater, and we have over 3,000 people right now on our email list, so we feel like there's opportunity there for us to reach a lot more people than we would if people were required to come to a theater," Boullion said. "So we're actually pretty excited about it; it's something new, and if it's successful we may decide to do it again."
Festival sponsorships are also available with amounts ranging from $100-$750.
In addition to changes to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Boullion said the coronavirus has also affected many other Bayou Land Conservancy programs.
Boullion said the nonprofit had to cancel the spring classes of both its Spring Creek Greenway Ambassador adult education program and its No Child Left Inside youth program, although she hopes to relaunch both programs in the fall.
In addition, Boullion said the pandemic has made it more challenging for the Bayou Land Conservancy staff to monitor each of its 61 preserves, which span across the Greater Houston area from Bryan to Beaumont.
"Some of those monitoring visits require ATVs or canoes or kayaks, and we normally meet the landowner out there, so it's been really challenging because a lot of the landowners aren't able to get out there, or or they're not comfortable coming out, or they don't want us to do the monitoring right now—so that's been a really big challenge for us," she said.
In the interim, Boullion added the Bayou Land Conservancy has moved a lot of its educational content online, including its Ask an Ecologist series, which is hosted by the nonprofit's Land Stewardship Director Suzanne Simpson and airs via Facebook Live on Thursdays at 3 p.m.
"She's been covering all kinds of cool stuff like snakes, how to keep snakes out of your yard, Earth Day and this last weekend was the City Nature Challenge, so she talked about that, so she's been talking about a lot of cool stuff and answering questions, so that's been fun," Boullion said.
Additionally, Boullion said as parks, nature trails and preserves become more crowded with people trying to get out of the house, the Bayou Land Conservancy also offers a virtual tour of its Spring Creek Nature Trail.
"You don't even have to be on the trail to do that tour. So if somebody isn't able to get outside right now but still wants to learn more about the Spring Creek Greenway and the history and the plants and animals out there and all that kind of stuff, that eco tour would be a fun and easy way to do that," Boullion said.