Plastic Cap Trophies

Let me tell you a story about three of my most amazing colleagues at the National Wildlife Federation, and how they inspire me.

In July 2010, Beth Wallace was working in our Great Lakes office and was looking for bigger and better ways she could contribute. One day, as she was on her way to work, the news announced that a giant pipeline had broken in the Kalamazoo River, right by her hometown. Beth immediately sprang into action, helping National Wildlife Federation get out the real story about the spill and its impact on wildlife.

Becky Lentz also works in our Great Lakes office. Since summer 2011, she worked with me to figure out how National Wildlife Federation could get better at sharing our stories. Becky had never made a video before. She invited me to their office to teach interviewing and camera techniques. Becky decided she would put together a video of Beth’s story, with help from our colleagues Jennifer Janssen and Frank Szollosi on the camera.

Becky interviewed Beth in her hometown and gathered photos. She interviewed Beth’s parents. She shaped the story lovingly.

She brought her plan to Hillary Esquina, who works with me here in Reston, Virginia. Hillary brought her video editing talents to the project. They all managed to fit this in to their schedule with giant workloads and pressures from their “real” work.

The resulting video has won two awards so far – a People’s Telly Bronze Award and a Communicator Award.

Check out the final video that they made here:

Now They Win One More Award – the Trashmagination Award!

Today we had an award ceremony over Skype where they each received one-of-a-kind plastic cap trophies. It’s such a small thing, given how amazing they are. However, I just wanted them to know that taking risks and letting yourself be 100% creative is really worthwhile – and I’m so grateful we were able to put our story vision into action!

Every time I watch this video, and I have watched it often, I get a catch in my breath and my heart feels full with knowledge that Beth and National Wildlife Federation are making a difference.

The first time I watched it, I was standing at my desk and tears just started falling down my face because I was so proud of Becky, Beth and Hillary. I called over people on my team and said, “Please watch this, see what happens when people tell our stories with love.”

Thank you to Jennifer for organizing the award ceremony and Andy for getting the champagne!

How are the trophies made?

  • I gathered mostly yellow plastic caps. My favorite cap is the laundry cap in Becky’s trophy.
  • I piled them up in a way that looked like a trophy silhouette.
  • I drilled a hole through the bottom of each cap with my power drill.
  • I made handles for the trophies out of shopping bag handles. I cut these two the right length and tied a knot in one end, then thread them through more holes.
  • The handles form something like a “spine” for the trophies – much better than glue!!!
  • You pull the string as tight as you can without causing the caps to collapse and tie a sturdy knot.
  • For the labels, I cut type 5 plastic labels (yogurt style) with scissors.
  • I printed the labels on my printer.
  • I glued on the labels and clamped them on with clamps so they would dry in a curved position.

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