Tales of Sunshine is the title of UCF student Vincent Marcucci’s short film that gives viewers a firsthand look into the stories of Floridian conservationists who are tackling prominent environmental conflicts.

Marcucci, who is majoring in film and environmental studies, began developing the idea for this series last summer and filmed his first episode last fall. He was awarded a $1,800 grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research to develop four more episodes with the help of a team of researchers, student filmmakers and marketing students.

Issues surrounding access to water, fishing regulations and treatment of farmers are central topics that impact the wellbeing of Florida communities and the broader environment, Marcucci says. Each episode uses film as a medium for presenting some of those challenges and the research being conducted across the state to address them.

But the research is just one element of the story Marcucci is trying to tell. As producer, writer and interviewer, Marcucci starts with the element of storytelling.

“It all starts with one person,” he says. “It’s what makes these films worthwhile and beautiful, the stories we capture.”

One of the short films features Ian Biazzo, a UCF biology doctoral candidate who looks at the tree frog population and the effects of prescribed fires.

“I focus on frogs, especially tree frogs, because they usually are a numerically dominant vertebrate group in these ecosystems,” says Biazzo. “They are unique in that they require both upland and wetland habitats in their life cycles, which has implications for conservation and land-management strategies.”

Marcucci is devoted to sharing not only the data and the important research being generated, but also the multifaceted nature of the person behind the research, why they care about what they’re discussing and how they live out their passion.

“Florida has a series of environmental conflicts that need to be solved and that present issues to ordinary people on a daily basis,” he says. “That’s the story.”

For Marcucci, this project is a way of channeling his own interests in environmental and social activism and one step on his journey to honing skills in the art of storytelling research. He plans to continue his efforts as a freelance videographer and filmmaker in the nonprofit sector working with ethical brands focused on conservation.

“I know there are many more stories to tell and much more research to be done,” he says. “And I have loved hearing so many interesting and profound stories which are impacting conservation in Florida.”

He says the series would not have been possible without the help of his many teammates especially production managers Kelly Saenz, Christopher Shick, Kristen Gallo and his faculty mentor Lisa Peterson, an associate instructor in the Nicholson School of Communication and Media.

To find out more about Marcucci’s work and that of other undergraduate and graduate students, check out the Student Scholar Symposium during this year’s virtual Student Research Week, March 29-April 2. Hundreds of students will present their work. Anyone with a valid UCF email are welcome to attend virtually.