Sophomore year in high school meant I could take two class electives. What to choose? I decided to take a journalism class, same as my two cousins.
That decision ended up having a lifelong impact on me, for it set me on my career path. For more than four decades, I’ve been in the journalism field — reporting, editing and making photos.
It’s been a great experience, one that helped a shy dairy farm kid gain self-confidence in her writing and photography skills. Journalism encouraged my inquisitiveness and quest to remain a lifelong learner.
I’ve had the opportunity to tell the stories of hundreds of farm families and businesses over the years. Some of those stories involved travel across the U.S. and beyond. When I look back, there are so many experiences that left an impression and made a memory for me. Like the time I traveled to Arizona for a few dairy stories. This was my first exposure to drylot mega-farms. From a distance, in pen after pen, I saw heat waves rippling above the Holsteins. On one of my international trips, I got lost while driving in the western French countryside. I stopped at the village post office and with the help of a French phrase book, got directions to where I needed to go. And after a January trip to western Pennsylvania, Minnesota snowstorms didn’t seem so bad. A blizzard prompted the cancellation of my return flight and I ended up spending the night at an Amish dairy farm.
Like agriculture, journalism has changed a lot over the last 50 years. While in high school and college, we composed stories at the typewriter. Thankfully, my first employer — a small daily newspaper in northern Michigan — was on the cutting edge and had computers. Fax machines, and then the internet and email, helped speed up the process of gathering and checking news and facts. Good and/or bad that they may be, 24/7 news cycles and programs, along with social media, have infiltrated journalism.
Yes, lots of changes. Including for me. It is time for me to step aside from my editor duties with The Farmer and to consider other pursuits. My last day with the magazine will be Dec. 30.
Thank you to all who have welcomed me over the years onto your farms and trusted me to tell your stories. You have been the highlight of my career.
Thank you to those we call “stakeholders”— state agency staffs, company reps, farm organization leaders — for providing information and ideas for articles.
Thank you, esteemed readers, for allowing The Farmer to visit your homesteads via mail or website.
Thank you, dedicated colleagues, for helping me be a better writer and editor.
I wish you all the best.