Local nature duo lands Nickelodeon spotlight
Internet show to be featured on Nick News
By Carnell Hawthorne Jr., Reporter
What does it take to be an Internet star?
Ask brothers Rhett and Brian Barker of Suwannee County and they'll tell you: a backyard, a video camera, and clever Web aliases.
The boys, ages 15 and 11, will be featured on an upcoming episode of Nickelodeon's "Nick News with Linda Ellerbee" July 12 at 9 p.m. thanks to the success of their Internet show "Teen Wilderness" on YouTube.
The Barker brothers said they have hosted their North Florida nature show for nearly two years. They have featured nearly 60 species of creatures on the show, including: banana spiders, green tree frogs, lizards, gopher tortoises and even lions.
Rhett Barker, whose Web alias is Atlas Capronie, said the show spawned from an 8th grade school assignment in which he chose to take a video camera and go out and film creatures in his backyard.
Since that time he and his brother have continued weekly updates to their Web site: www.teenwilderness.tk, which gets nearly 100 visitors a day.
Brian Barker (Web alias Jason Capronie) does most of the camera work, while Rhett edits and sometimes films underwater footage. The pair has visited several state parks and even filmed at Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary in Tampa.
Earlier this year, Nickelodeon producers emailed the Barkers to ask if they were interested in appearing on the network television show.
Rhett said initially he thought the email from Nickelodeon was a fake, so he deleted the message. After a second email arrived, Rhett informed his parents, who confirmed the email's legitimacy.
In March, a small film crew showed up at the boys' doorstep to spend a day filming the Barker boys on one of their nature adventures. They spent most of the day at the Suwannee River State Park.
"First they interviewed us," Rhett Barker said. "Then the crew filmed us filming our show."
Brian Barker found the experience quite thrilling.
"It was actually really interesting having a huge camera crew following us around," he said.
Rhett Barker, who enters 10th grade at Suwannee High School this fall, said he hopes to one day own a zoo or wildlife sanctuary and travel around the world filming animals.
Brian Barker, who wants to be an astronaut, said, "I want to see the world from a whole different angle." He will enter 6th grade this year at Suwannee Middle School.
The boys' parents, Richard and Barbara Barker, are especially proud of their sons.
"It's all their passion. It's just been their thing," Barbara Barker said. "It's nice to see them get recognized for their work. We'll just see where it takes them."
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