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1st year down

Sarah McNaughton Cattle in field
‘DREAM JOB’: Going to farm events and visiting with readers have been highlights of my new job.
My one-year anniversary with Dakota Farmer has been filled with learning the trade, traveling the region and meeting our readers.

When I first graduated college and got my farm broadcasting gig, I had no idea the relationships and friendships I’d get out of covering news for the tri-state area. As passionate as I am for the work done through Extension, I always missed the agriculture aspect of my work as a county 4-H agent. Being able to join the team here at Farm Progress as editor of Dakota Farmer seemed like a dream come true, and the last year has been full of learning, writing, driving and planning out magazine pages.

Back to media

When I joined Farm Progress last February, I was burned out and exhausted coming off my job with Extension. As much as I loved my job there, spending long hours, nights and weekends doing the roles of three people took its toll, especially during a pandemic. Coming back to ag media was a breath of fresh air.

You probably know by now that I’m extremely passionate about agriculture and the people within it. The opportunity to be paid to attend farm shows and research summits, and of course, visiting your farms and ranches always seems too good to be true. The connections I’ve been privileged enough to make with some of agriculture’s finest are irreplaceable.

One such person, a woman whom I met off Twitter way back when I was in college and writing an interview series on women in agriculture, forwarded me the job posting for my current role here at Farm Progress. She remains someone whom I and many others look up to and respect within ag. I always make sure to stop by her icehouse at the Bison tailgates.

Numerous lessons

From finding enough stories to fill the many pages of Dakota Farmer to writing about new equipment found at Husker Harvest Days, I’m happy to be a fast learner. Breaking myself out of my comfort zone has always been something I enjoyed — whether that be the first time reading ag markets live on air as a broadcaster to driving myself across the state of Nebraska at 11 p.m.

While much of my time is spent in my home office, shifting through which webinars or farm shows to attend, or furiously writing and re-writing the next cover story, the times I get to travel and be on the road covering stories are some of my favorites — minus the blizzards and winter weather we in the Dakotas are so lucky to get each year.

I’m eternally grateful for all the people here that helped guide me through my first year and beyond. Mindy Ward, my boss who has sat on numerous video calls with me, while I rearranged 64 pages of a magazine, tried to hire a new freelancer, or choose the best photo for the story. Kevin Schulz, our staff writer that I’m so thankful brings his years of experience and network of South Dakota agriculturalists to our pages. It’s always a pleasure to work with Diane Barry, our copy editor; Shelly Jarka, our art director; Curt Arens, Nebraska Farmer’s editor; and the other countless people who have given advice or assistance this past year.

I also have to thank our readers. You might not have had a real choice in the next editor of your (hopefully, favorite) farm magazine, but meeting you at farm events and hearing your feedback on stories or ideas remains one of my favorite parts of the job. I hope to continue to fill these pages with stories of resilience from fellow farmers, useful production tips and advice, and anything and everything related to Dakota agriculture.

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