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ETL wins second NATAS – Upper Midwest Regional Student Production Award

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April 3, 2017

By Jeff Johnson '17

Etl group at Emmys

Members of Extending the Link accept the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) – Upper Midwest Regional Student Production Award March 31 in Bloomington, Minnesota. Members are (from left) Erin Beacom '17, Malia Carson '17, Allie Rudnickas '17, Elizabeth Flaherty '17 and Jeff Johnson '17.

For the second time, Extending the Link (ETL) received a National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) – Upper Midwest Regional Student Production Award. 

The non-profit, student-run organization at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University was one of two student production teams who took home a Student Production Crystal Pillar Award from the Upper Midwest Emmy® Chapter/Foundation in the College Non-Fiction category on Friday, March 31, at the Crowne Plaza Aire Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota. 

ETL was honored for “Ubumwe: Together We Grow,” which was produced in 2016. A production team from Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, also received an award in the category, which had eight nominees. 

The StreamTeam — a division of Johnnie Bennie Media — was also nominated for a Crystal Pillar Award in the College – Sports: Live Event category. Their coverage of the 2016 SJU-University of St. Thomas football game reached 7,000 fans, but did not garner the production team an award in the category. 

The event was presented by NATAS. The Upper Midwest region consists of Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and western Wisconsin. 

“Ubumwe: Together We Grow,” which premiered at the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater on April 14, 2016, is about women in agriculture in Minnesota and in Rwanda. 

The film focuses on the experiences of women farmers and explores the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. To date, Rwanda is the only country with a female representative majority in government. 

“Ubumwe” was the ninth documentary produced by ETL, and the second to receive a Crystal Pillar Award. “Ger Kler: A Journey of Untold Strength” (produced in 2014) also received the honor in 2015, and “Obassa Ain Gállit: We Continue” (produced in 2015) was also a nominee, but did not win the award in 2016. 

Now in its 10th year, ETL is already working on its next project. The forthcoming documentary is titled “Luen Hai: Decoding the Connection” and will cover the topic of electronic waste in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Seattle, as well as abroad in Hong Kong. “Luen Hai” premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in the Stephen B. Humphrey Theater at SJU.