The university’s second annual environmental film festival, “Lights, Camera, EARTH!,” concluded Sunday night in Mitchell Hall with the premiere of the winning film from the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN) student ambassador’s third annual video competition.
Becky Bronstein, DENIN’s chair student ambassador, announced that graduate student and doctoral candidate Lisa Tossey won the $1,000 cash prize for this year’s video’s theme: “A Personal Journey.”
Tossey, 40, is an outdoorsy writer and educator, avid kayaker and self-described “gadget geek” studying educational technology with a focus on marine science. She is working toward a doctorate in educational leadership.
Tossey narrates her five-minute film, briefly detailing the unexpected trials and tribulations of her personal, professional and educational journeys—despite her Type A personality and penchant for planning.
She grew up with an intense interest in science and goal of becoming a veterinarian. She excelled in her biology and chemistry studies at Salisbury University. But when she began her program in vet school, things simply didn’t “feel right.”
After one too many tearful phone calls home, Tossey’s father reminded her that she was the only person forcing herself to continue on this path. At her sister’s encouragement, she became a flight attendant with US Airways, which allowed her to “see the world” and indulge in her love of traveling. She began contributing to a travel blog, soon discovering her passion for the written word.
Tossey worked as a science editor for an online textbook company and later got a master’s degree in journalism with a focus in science.
She has since worked in communication and education positions for AmeriCorps for Delaware State Parks, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Delaware Sea Grant and the university—freelancing and covering environmental leaders and efforts along the way.
“I continued to travel and see firsthand how we are all facing the same issues in environmental stewardship and education—from marine debris littering the shores of our one global ocean in Hong Kong to rising seas in Venice to classrooms in South Africa,” she says in the video.
Tossey found out about the competition through social media and says her background in communication helped her create a film that exemplifies her personal journey and years of environmental activism.
“My overall goal for the piece was to point out that as much as you might try to plan ahead, life doesn’t always take a straight line, and you should embrace different opportunities as they present themselves,” she says. “You never know where they might lead next.”
Tossey also currently acts as the social media community manager and editor for the National Marine Educators Association. She intends on donating a portion of her prize money to local organizations that are meaningful to her, as well as upgrading her camera inventory.
“As Henry David Thoreau once said, ‘Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence,’” Tossey concludes in her video.