My escape into nature

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heart on a fall leaf

“What is meant for you will come to you.”

That’s a quote that I live by when things I have really wanted have not worked out — or on the contrary, when they do and you realize your next journey is just beginning. I didn’t always know I wanted to write about the environment, however, from a young age I have loved being outside in nature.

Growing up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, there wasn’t much of an outdoors to escape to except for my dad’s garden in the backyard and the nearby park. However, when I did have the chance to escape the suburbs, my family and I would visit my grandparent’s farm in Johnstown, Pennsylvania — an old coal mining and steel town in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Although Johnstown wasn’t the flourishing town it had been decades ago during its coal days, here was my oasis. My breath of fresh air, despite past decades of low air quality produced by the old steel mills. When we’d visit, we would spend all day outside, taking walks in the woods to the old maple house where they’d make maple syrup from the maple trees that surrounded its wooden structure. We would visit the cows, my favorite being a cow named Elizabeth — which was ironically named after I was born. In the summers, I would help pick blueberries and raspberries, eating so many I would get a stomach ache. And in the fall, we would pick apples to make applesauce — my grandmother’s applesauce being my favorite to date. It was my second home, my home away from home — but then I found a third.

After graduating high school, I attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. When I first arrived, I knew I wanted to be a journalist. However, it wasn’t until my junior year when I took environmental and science journalism that I realized I wanted to write about nature. During my time at OU, I was privileged with the opportunity to travel outside the confines of the university and visit local produce auctions, farms, acid mine drainage sites, state parks and other places that helped me learn more about the area and history of southeastern Ohio.

I recognize my experiences with the environment and farming are different from those of you who put in the work every day and night to provide for your communities. However, I have always felt like a part of my Pittsburgh heart was divided between many places, constantly yearning for that escape into nature. I am so privileged to be granted the opportunity to work as a reporter at Farm and Dairy and am excited to not only learn from those of you in the community but to tell your important stories. What is meant for you will come to you, and I have found it. Please feel free to contact me at epartsch@farmanddairy.com.

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Liz Partsch, also known as Elizabeth, is a graduate of Ohio University with a degree in journalism. She is from Pittsburgh, Pa. and is an aspiring environmental journalist. Besides writing, her interests include hiking, running, photography and music.

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