Paws For Community: Student Video Project Impacts Local Animal Shelter

Benjamin Martin (left) and Shinia Kildall Behind Video CameraThe impact that Pacific University students make on the world does not wait until graduation or require a degree. It is immediate.

Shinia Kildall ’25 and classmate Benjamin Martin learned that lesson in a Foundations of Video Production class last fall, where the culminating project was to produce a mini-documentary video, focusing on interviewing techniques and tying together video techniques learned in previous class projects.

“Some people did projects on classmates or people on campus. Benjamin and I immediately decided that we wanted to something with animals,” Kildall said.

The resulting project has made a difference for dogs and cats at Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals (OFOSA), a Washington County-based nonprofit that welcomed the two Pacific students’ request to tell the story of its organization. Headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon, OFOSA works to address the animal overpopulation problem by placing dogs and cats in foster homes and providing adoption opportunities.

The three-and-a-half minute video has not only provided a valuable storytelling tool for OFOSA but was also singled out by Portland’s KOIN-TV in a “Positive Vibes” segment during a January newscast.

Kildall, a multimedia major from Port Angeles, Washington, did not expect the video to garner the attention or the impact that it has. “That was such a surprise,” she said. “We turned the video in, and it was just like everything exploded from here. It was just so incredible.”

The video tells the story of OFOSA through the eyes of its foster parents and staff members who care for the animals until a forever home can be found. The organization works with local shelters to provide non-kill alternatives. At the end of February, OFOSA listed five dogs and 32 cats available for adoption with many more needing foster situations.

The television station was alerted to the video by Anne Haynes, OFOSA’s director of development, who jumped at the chance to have the program featured.

“We are a small nonprofit with zero budget for production and marketing. We can’t compete with large shelters which seem to get all of the publicity,” Haynes said. “I also felt like this was a wonderful community project that would be fun to get involved with and it was a chance to boost the morale of our foster families.”

Enie Vaisburd, professor of media arts and the duo’s instructor for the class, said that collaboration could not have been better for everyone involved. “Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals was a great collaborator and what happened was what we always secretly hope for in a project,” Vaisburd said. “It was not a class assignment anymore. It was a project that they were passionate about. And it was a project that mattered to this whole community of foster animal homes.”

The need for foster families and adoptive homes has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. Thanks to the complications of the pandemic and the inability during that time for animals to be spayed and neutered, the cat and dog population skyrocketed.

“I thought that during COVID people adopted more pets because they were so lonely but it turned out to be the opposite,” Kildall said. “People didn’t know what to do with them. They gave up their animals. That came as a huge shock to me.”

The impact of the video project is a testament to the potential that all Pacific students have to create an immediate impact in the community.

“Coming to Pacific and doing this project and others, I realized just how many resources we have here. Just realizing that, even as a college kid, we can do something like this is incredible,” Kildall said. “We have all of these resources and once you realize how to use them, there’s so many different things you can do.”

Vaisburd hopes that all of her students can experience the potential impact that the OFOSA project had.

“Shinia and Ben experienced first-hand how the work they made impacted OFOSA and how the film amplifies the work they do, by reaching people beyond their immediate community and potentially influencing a wider audience,” Vaisburd said.

In addition to her video work, Kildall uses her creative talents to design shirts and stickers for various campus organizations. She is also a leader in a Pacific-based chapter of Girl Gains, which seeks to empower women in the gym. Academically, Kildall continues to explore what career possibilities excite her.

The future will also involve fostering animals sometime after she graduates. But for now, Kildall appreciates the impact that her beginning video project is having on many other four-legged friends.

“It’s funny because we were so focused on the assignment part of this that we put our heads up and realized that this is having a bigger impact than we thought it was,” Kildall said.

To learn more about Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals and their foster and adoption program, visit their website.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024