Cory Coots, Angel Hill, Ellie Hogg, Jade Slone & Jarrod Stamper

Whitesburg, Ky.

Before It’s Too Late,” a short film produced this past summer, investigates water quality in Letcher County, Ky. The five youth involved in the project spoke with locals and other experts, uncovering critical information about water pollution.

Every year, media nonprofit Applashop brings Appalachian high schoolers to Whitesburg, Ky., to gain media skills and explore regional issues for the Summer Documentary Institute.

Creating “Before It’s Too Late” had its difficulties — the young filmmakers say that water quality can be a touchy subject in the area, with some residents involved in lawsuits over pollution and others afraid of alienating employers or landlords. But Cory Coots, 17, of Viper, Ky., says the topic is critically important. “Water quality directly influences us because we drink that water, we bathe in that water,” he says. “If there’s something wrong with it, it’s obviously going to affect us somehow.”

Ellie Hogg, 17, of Berea, Ky., says she has a new understanding of the impacts of water pollution, and believes that youth who speak out about these problems have the ability to bring awareness to other young people.

“[The experience] made me feel more connected to people who are involved in solving problems,” she says. — By Molly Moore


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