audience - standing ovation at premiere

More than a thousand see the film, hundreds more turned away

LA CROSSE, WI – For a new documentary film, Decoding the Driftless, which premiered on September 26, 2018, the nearly 1,200-seat main theater at Viterbo University was packed, with some audience members left standing, while hundreds of people, as many as 400, were turned away at the doors.

“We were delighted to host the premiere of Decoding the Driftless,” said Richard Kyte, director of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership. “We have never before seen so much enthusiasm for the screening of a film.”

Erica Kohlmeyer Zenke, a local middle school counselor who attended the premiere, said, “I was beyond impressed with Decoding the Driftless. It was so well done, captivating, informative, and even humorous.” She added, “I learned so much and have already recommended the film to several friends. I was completely blown away. What an incredible gift to the region!”

The event included a question and answer session with the director and producers and a reception in which hundreds of guests mingled with the film’s producers, cast and crew.

“It was an amazing night,” said Tim Jacobson, president of Sustainable Driftless, Inc., and one of the film’s producers. “The huge, enthusiastic crowd totally exceeded our expectations.”

The film is described by the producers as a wild ride of adventure above, on, and below the amazing Driftless Region. Soar over ancient, rugged bluffs, skim the surface of primordial rivers, venture deep underground to secret worlds, marvel at sacred archeological treasures, hang perilously over massive rock cliffs, and travel across time itself to explore and decipher ancient clues of the unglaciated Driftless Region landscape, with its captivating scenic beauty.

The film is a production of local Emmy Award-winning filmmakers George Howe and Tim Jacobson of Sustainable Driftless, Inc., who teamed up for the second time with national TV series host and Emmy-winner Rob Nelson of Untamed Science, Inc. For this film, the creative team added Swedish filmmaker Jonas Stenstrom of Untamed Science, six-time Emmy-winning wildlife cinematographer Neil Rettig, and YouTube sensation Mike a/k/a “PleaseStandBy” (formerly “ChimneySwift11”) with his 1.8 million subscribers.

The creative team delivered extremely rare footage of natural phenomena and scenic beauty in the Driftless, including the origins and diverse natural and archaeological resources of the Driftless Region.

Kyte said, “My own impression is that this film will be an essential tool for teaching environmental ethics in this region for decades to come. I plan to use the film not only for my college classes, but also for ethics workshops with middle school and high school students.”

“With the hugely successful premiere, it’s apparent that all the sacrifices and hard work to make the film were very much worth it,” said George Howe, one of the producers. “I couldn’t be happier with the results.”

“Before the premiere, I predicted that this film would blow people’s socks off,” Rob Nelson said. “Based on the audience’s enthusiastic reaction Wednesday evening, I’m convinced we accomplished that.”


Sustainable Driftless, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring resource conservation, vibrant communities, and sustainable growth in the Driftless Region. The group believes that the region is an epic natural, cultural and historic treasure. While it is well known among some circles, it is widely unknown to most people outside the area despite having resources that could stand up to very-well-known assets such as Yellowstone National Park and the Smokey Mountains. By promoting its value to the local public, Sustainable Driftless believes it can help strengthen conservation efforts and serve as a catalyst to better ensure that local communities are vibrant and sustainable. And by promoting the Driftless Region’s value to the larger (global) public as a premier international geo-tourism destination, we can help ensure the landscape’s conservation by demonstrating its value as an economic engine for its rural communities and its thoughtful, sustainable use.


Untamed Science is a group of passionate scientists, educators, and filmmakers who have come to the conclusion that learning about science should be fun and easy. They have a diverse collection of working professionals, including a production team of award winning science-filmmakers, a team of on camera talent, and a collection of science content writers who are dedicated to helping expand the outreach portals. Information about Untamed Science can be found at