Back to the Races

I was quick into the gate after this spring break, with a GA shift on day one of week one back. By far my busiest GA shift thus far, it seems crazy just how much more confident I feel in the newsroom. Just the experience of working in the newsroom environment throughout the semester has given me so much more confidence in my writing and my ability to produce news content quickly and efficiently. 

While it wasn’t the brightest of way to welcome back school, I was able to take on and write a life story about community legend and musical wonder Hugo Vianello. After several long conversations with family members, friends and colleagues alike, I am positive that my life personally has been improved throughout what I was able to hear and learn about the late Maestro Vianello. In a completely non-morbid way and with the best of intent, I have actually come to enjoy the writing of life stories. I suppose it’s the anthropologist in me that loves to expand and explore the history and story of an individual’s life, and there are few places where this takes form outside of profiles and life stories. 

As the final few weeks of school approach, I am excited to push myself towards more news stories and push myself in completing a few upcoming feature pieces that have already been long in the making. We will see how the semester closes and finish out this segment of my college career as a reporter. 

Break Time!

SPRING BREAK HAS ARRIVED!! But hey, we all know that news never sleeps! While I was able to get away for a good chunk of break and breathe a bit of newsroom-free air, I spent the first weekend of spring break in town covering an event hosted by a program near and dear to my heart, 4-H. 

From left, Chase Stone, Aaron Schmalzried and Carson Rohaus try the milkweed activity on Saturday, March 24 in between dances at the 2018 state Teen Conference. The activity was emphasized the difficulty of surviving as a monarch caterpillar and showed participants what dangers Monarchs face in early stages of life.

Aaron Schmalzried, left, and Chase Stone dangle their magnet ‘caterpillar’ over the plastic milkweed plant in an attempt to pick up ‘food’ pieces placed on the milkweed leaves. “We learned about how hard it is for a monarch butterfly to live,” Stone said.

Magnetic dots sit on plastic milkweed leaves between activity participants. The dots are colored green to symbolize food and yellow or with pictures to show dangers caterpillars face. Birds are one of many predators monarch caterpillars must avoid.

Workshop participants added ideas for land management on aerial photographs in hopes of learning more about Missouri management. Participants chose three different land management techniques to apply to the land plots on their image.

Kendrick Stunz, 12, from Henry County, replaces dots of food onto a fake milkweed plant after completing the activity on Saturday, March 24.

For those who don’t know me, I grew up in the 4-H program and it remains one, if not the, most impactful program I have yet been a part of. My experience with the program draws my interest back to hear about the new and unique programs that Missouri 4-H has to offer. Colorado 4-H is, I have come to realize, starkly different from Missouri 4-H simply by nature of the type of agriculture dominating each state. 

One of these programs I had not seen before coming to Missouri is the Ag Innovators Experience program, a state-wide youth led group who works with a new theme each year to teach peers about specific elements of land management, species control, agriculture, etc. This year’s theme is Monarchs on the Move, designed to educate youth on the importance of the Monarch butterfly in Missouri agriculture and to help teach different land management techniques that can be applied in Missouri environments. 

Through the process of both reporting and photographing this event, I found myself more comfortable than I had felt reporting a story in a while. Knowing how much calmer I felt to be reporting stories that I personally had a connection to, I am excited both to continue developing stories of the same variety as well as push myself even farther out of my comfort zone to see how much I can become comfortable with reporting. Further I think spending so much time around people in the age group 18-25 made me forget just how much I love working with and around kids, so I am excited to try to shift my attention back to reporting on and working in collaboration with all different age groups, the farther from my age the better! 

Marching through True/False

Levi Bedall, one of the three designers for the the art installation “Atmosphere,” stands still amongst the beams of light streaming through the plastic on Friday, March 2 on Ninth Street in downtown Columbia. “I feel like I’m in a space. That these things are real. That they are solid,” Bedall said.

TJ Muller strums cords intermittently during a break between songs on Saturday, March 3. The pair is based in St. Louis but performs traditional jazz on antique instruments at events like the True/False Film Fest.

Dancers come together in the street as New Creations Brass Band performs after the completion of the festival’s annual parade March March on Friday, March 3. The band is originally from New Orleans but traveled north to perform during the festival.

Cindy Scott, a local painter and artist, drags streaks of purple down from the top of the plywood canvas on Saturday At Wildy’s World. The plywood covers the majority of the art studio’s west wall and sits beside last year’s True/False Film Fest creation.

Heidi Allemann and Isaiah Davis-Stober move between crowds to sell homemade cookies to festival attendees throughout downtown Columbia. The pair are part of a group of local high school students and adults who call themselves “IceKeepers.” The group worked in Jalisco, Mexico, and is now planning what story they want to tell.

Phillip Neale stakes out the first spot in line on Sunday, March 4, outside the Blue Note. Neale, who waited for his wife to join him in line for “Our New President,” arrived outside the theater nearly an hour and a half before the Q was set to open. “If you want to be assured of getting a good Q, you have to be in line two hours or more,” Neale said.

March kicked off with True/False FilmFestival, a jam-packed weekend with more movies than I can list, food I know tastes great just walking down the street and more people filling the streets than even the busiest Saturday night. Every year Columbia is flooded with film lovers and makers for the film fest and while every year in Columbia, I have found one way or another to partake, this year I was able to see it up close and personal through man-on-the-street coverage with Megan Dollar. 

We paired up to cover as much as possible that True/False had to offer: from films and local and visiting art to musicians and fundraisers, Megan and I spent three full days photographing, interviewing and absorbing the high-energy atmosphere that the film festival brings to town. While the days were long and both physically and mentally exhausting, I left the newsroom each day feeling like more and more confident with my work and with my eye for finding interesting (non-cliché) stories that were made for both text and visuals. Working with Megan forced me to think not only about what makes a great photo but what you need to create and craft a great story. This heavier emphasis on finding pieces that work in both avenues was a new and extremely beneficial challenge for me that I am sure will continue into my work moving forward. 

Outside of the process of creating content throughout the weekend and beyond the challenge of finding unique and new ideas to complete, I felt that the weekend helped me to realize just how possible it is to find, report, document and publish stories in so short a time span. With the right mentality and approach, it is more than doable to publish at least one if not multiple pieces in a day. This fast paced environment helped me to really feel much more prepared for creating and pushing pieces out on a faster time clock than I have previously encountered and I know this will only help me to improve my writing and timelines in the future. 

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