Evann Twitchell: Wild Folk (a micro-documentary)

Artist Statement

Wild Folk, a nature based learning community in central Missouri, aimed to encourage the inherent joy of curiosity based learning.

I stumbled upon this remarkable community of “unschooling” by an incredibly serendipitous and harmonious alignment of stars. Attending a climate action protest alone, I gravitated toward a familiar face and the group of spunky children surrounding her. She was Polina Malikin, the founder and coordinator of Wild Folk Farm and Forest School. As I joined them, we chatted while walking the streets with our hand-painted signs in the air. There was something so human and quirky, so courageous and genuine and colorful about these kids. I wanted to learn more and I’m so thankful I did.

In the following months I visited the school numerous times, getting to know the people and documenting their untraditional education experience. Their mission, to cultivate compassionate, empowered, ecologically-minded citizens through a deep connection to the natural world, community and play, echoed a profound need I had felt in my experiences as a K- 12 substitute teacher and in my own childhood. Creating this short documentary allowed me to dream about the future of intentional and experiential learning in new and exciting ways.

Unfortunately, by the summer of 2020, Wild Folk was no longer able to continue due to various challenges. Though seasons have changed for this vibrant community, I am confident the impact of Wild Folk’s rich soil will live on in the roots of all who were planted in it for lifetimes to come.

Dedicated to the late Leo Malikin.

Original music by Lake Mary and The Ranch Family Band

Produced by Evann Twitchell, in the Murray Center for Documentary Journalism

Special thanks to Stacey Woelfel, Polina Malikin, Sara Miller, and Chaz Prymek

About the Project 

  • Title of Work: Wild Folk (a micro-documentary)
  • Medium: A seven minute documentary short film
  • Student's Name: Evann Twitchell
  • Major: Journalism (Radio Television)
  • Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2022
  • Hometown: Columbia, Missouri
  • Student's Mentor: Stacey Woelfel
  • Mentor's Department: Documentary Journalism
  • Art Project ID: 21VADS - 026


Rachel Newman

Congratulations on creating this beautiful micro-documentary, Evann! Thank you for sharing this gift about connection in multiple facets.


Evann Twitchell

Hi Rachel! Thank you so much. I'm so glad you were able to see the piece and enjoyed it!


Erik Potter

Well done, Evann! I love the qualities you brought to this film, starting with putting yourself out there among people, being open to the new and interesting, and following that thread to this wonderful group of people who are brave enough to be different. Your sense of wonder and curiosity shines through the film. I so enjoyed watching it! 


Evann Twitchell

Hi Erik, thank you for your kind comment! I'm so glad you appreciated the piece! 


Marcus Wilkins

Beautifully shot. I enjoyed the intimate, in-the-dirt perspective, kid's-eye view and the way the camera lingers gleefully on dirty fingers and toes. The film has a tactile nature — and that's half the point, no? I could practically smell the soil and the overcast Missouri sky. I'm also in love with Wild Folk's educational philosophy. Bravo!


Evann Twitchell

Hi Marcus, I'm so honored to hear you thoughts and so glad you felt transported by the film to share in the earthy curiosity of Wild Folk! I definitely wanted this piece to engage the viewer in the cheerfully gritty way I experienced their community. So glad you picked up on that! Thanks for such a thoughtful comment! 


Jim Spain

Enjoyed your micro-documentary and how you captured the perspectives from the parents and how the children embraced the learning they experienced at Wild Folk Farm and Forest School.