About a month ago, I made the 11-hour drive from my home in Wooster, Ohio, to Ames, Iowa, for an interview.
I’ve done hundreds of interviews over the past dozen years of my career, except this time, I was the one being interviewed.
I had applied for a communications job at Iowa State University, and I learned earlier this month that I was successful. On April 1, I will begin my new role as a communications specialist with Iowa State Extension, working from the main campus, in central Iowa.
On the road
This means that I am indeed moving, and if you’re reading this paper on Thursday, there’s a good chance that I’m already on my way, somewhere on U.S. Route 30 headed west.
For the past nine years, I’ve been telling rural stories at Farm and Dairy, and for three-and-a half-years before, I did the same at The (Wooster) Daily Record.
The experience has been very rewarding, and I feel blessed to have lived and worked in the same community where I grew up.
I’ve had a fondness for writing and for farm publications since I was a boy, spending afternoons thumbing through old copies of Farm and Dairy, and all sorts of farm magazines that my grandparents got in the mail.
I enjoyed reading about the different farm families and seeing how the authors captured their story — both in print and in photography. Getting to one day tell those stories myself was a dream come true.
I grew up on a farm south of Wooster, and I owe my appreciation for agriculture to my grandparents. Both sides of my family had farms, and, although they weren’t the largest or most progressive, they were the foundation of my knowledge about farming and the challenges farmers face.
Some of my best memories are of helping my Grandpa Kick haul ear corn to the local auction barns, and to the Amish farms across Holmes County. And helping my Grandpa Schlauch stack hay and scrape the barn alley at his dairy in Nashville.
I learned a lot from them, and things I didn’t even know I was learning at the time.
Following high school, I went to college at Ashland University, where I studied creative writing and journalism, and when I graduated in 2006, I was open to writing about anything.
As time went by, however, I found myself writing more and more about farm life, and I suppose that given my background, I should have known this would happen.
As I go to Iowa, I’m thankful to be continuing my career in the food and farming industry, and for the chance ahead of me to write and communicate about rural issues.
Iowa is a big farm state — ranked No. 1 in corn, swine and egg production, and is among the top in soybeans and cattle. But Ohio is a major farm state, as well, with a broad diversity of crop and livestock operations, and farms that are full-time and part-time.
I’m thankful to the people of Ohio, for helping me grow as a writer and as a person. I’m thankful for the opportunities to walk across your pastures and through your barns and county fairs, and to meet with each of you.
And I’m most thankful for my friends and family, who have been supportive of my decision, even though I will be 680 miles away.
I have no doubt that I will be back for the holidays, and I’m already making plans to come home for hunting season, and to take care of some antique tractors that I have in the shed.
I hope you will continue to read Farm and Dairy, and support the new writers who cover your news. Your story matters, and needs to be told and retold.
You’re the ones driving Ohio’s economy the most, and you’re the ones teaching the next generation about conservation, hard work and ethics — all while feeding your own family and families across the world.
Keep up the good work, and may God bless you in your own labor and life pursuits.
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