Storytelling school

On Uniquely Kentucky with Amber Philpott

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) — If you’re wondering where the July episode of Uniquely Kentucky is, don’t worry, you haven’t missed a thing.

We decided to hit the pause button out of respect for several major tragedies that made headlines in Eastern Kentucky in June and July.

First the funeral for the deadly ambush of three Floyd County officers and a K9 in early July, then the historic and catastrophic flooding that swept through parts of eastern Kentucky in late July.

Amber Philpott of WKYT is someone who holds Eastern Kentucky very close to her heart. It’s a place that gave Amber her start in television news, it’s where she went to college and for her, the mountains and its people will always have a place in her heart.

The past month has been so incredibly tough for so many of our eastern Kentucky neighbors. They have endured trauma, lost loved ones, and seen everything they worked so hard for washed away by the power of mother nature. The flooding turned streams like normally gentle and meandering Troublesome Creek into raging torrents of water.

Over the past month, Amber and the WKYT team have spent time on the ground in places like Perry and Breathitt counties and the devastation and destruction they have witnessed up close is immense, but they have also seen the kindness of strangers, were able to personally hug those who just needed to know someone cared and watched as a resilient region began to pick itself up and rely on others to pull through.

In this episode, we thought it was only fitting to introduce you to someone who uses her creative passion and soul to bring stories to life through a video documenting Eastern Kentucky and its people.

Justin Skeens is an award-winning digital storyteller. In fact, he’s the director of digital storytelling at Berea College.

Skeens is an eastern Kentucky native, former WYMT and WKYT videographer and last month he took to his camera not to document, but to help preserve the history and struggles that unfolded during this chaotic time. His love for Appalachia and all it stands for is quite evident when you speak with him or view one of his beautifully crafted pieces.

He’s a mountain boy living a dream behind the lens using his talents to share with the world a place so dear to many of us, Appalachia.