As many of us sit and wonder if WINTER is ever really going to happen this year. Some are looking back at the late season freeze that we experienced in 2019. Those weeks of brutal cold and significant snowfall made things difficult for just about everyone. But, none were more affected than local ranchers. Thats because the brutal cold snap struck right during the calving season for cattle. Ranchers spent day and night tending to the pregnant cows and made every effort they could to save every calf they could. Thankfully, UM student Jiakai Lou, was here to share the story of being a rancher in Montana.

According to the University Of Montana, School of Journalism, Press Release:

A University of Montana journalism student received first place in the Hearst Journalism Awards – one of the most prestigious honors for college-level journalism – for his look into Montana ranching.

Jiakai Lou will receive a $3,000 scholarship as the first-place winner in the Multimedia 1/Narrative Video Storytelling Competition for his piece “32 Below,” which he created for UM’s Montana Kaimin student newspaper.  

Chosen from among 88 entries from 54 schools, he qualifies to enter the National Multimedia Championship held in Houston in June.

“32 Below” takes an intimate look into the hard work, dedication and passion of one ranching family as they tend their cows and calves during last year’s frigid winter in Helmville, Montana.

Lou, who goes by JK, is an international student from China. He said he came to Montana for the outdoor activities and American western lifestyle. At first, he didn’t know what to study at UM, but soon rediscovered his love for documentaries.

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival recently announced it selected “32 Below” to premiere on Sunday, Feb. 23, at The Wilma.

credit: um journalism school