Many moviegoers have watched the class project of about a dozen Ivy Tech students from the Columbus campus, even though they don’t know it.

The students created a 30-second advertisement for Bartholomew County Farm Bureau to highlight the organization’s work and the importance of farming and agriculture. The ad has been appearing before every movie at AMC Classic Columbus 12 since Thanksgiving Day and will continue through the end of May.

“The ads are to make the public aware of agriculture and farming in Bartholomew County,” said Lois Bonnell, public relations director for Bartholomew County Farm Bureau. “Bartholomew County is still 56 percent agriculture.”

Educating residents about what farmers do, and why and how, is important, Bonnell added.

Bonnell said she got the idea of an ad at movies from a state conference she attended, and she thought it would be a good way to spread the message broadly.

She turned to Lloyd Brooks, the program chair for visual communication at Ivy Tech, to see if his students could help. He agreed, making it a project for an interdisciplinary class that included photography and graphic design students.

The students gained hands-on experience and Bartholomew County Farm Bureau got an ad for free — although it had to pay $5,800 for it to show at the movie theater.

“We had a history in the program for many years in an ongoing basis of doing lots of community service work or engagement,” Brooks said.

Starting in August, the students fanned out across the county, going to various types of agriculture operations to capture images of farm life, animals and the harvest season. They took 750 photos and four hours of video, Brooks said.

Some of the collected images appear in the 30-second ad, including local Farm Bureau President Scott Bonnell sharing a message from his farm. Other images appear in static ads featuring farm facts (Indiana is the second-largest grower of popcorn, for example) that rotate on a monitor of the lobby of the movie theater.

Warrie Dennis, a Columbus native who now lives in Franklin and commutes to Ivy Tech to earn a degree in visual communications design, said the project was a good idea because it brings agriculture into the limelight, and a great hands-on experience. Her role was talking with different farm families and filming video of their operations, and helping narrow the images to the ones that best fit the ad’s intended message.

“The narrative was to give more understanding and feel of farming in this area, and the hard work going into farming — whether you might be a farmer or part of Farm Bureau or in the seed part or (legal aspect),” said Dennis, 50, who was involved with 4-H while growing up.

Brooks said he was impressed by the students’ efforts because some juggled part-time jobs or commuting 20 or more miles. Students adjusted to farming schedules and were up early or stayed late to capture images at daybreak or dusk, he said.

Dennis said it’s a nice feeling for the students’ hands-on work to be more than a class project and make an impression on viewers.

“Students that have seen (the ad) on screen say it’s been received with positive response,” Dennis said.

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Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at johannesen@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5639.