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How a kid from the Iowa suburbs found his way to Successful Farming

Growing up as an Iowan, farming is something I’ve always been aware of – even if it’s just in the background, like it was for me growing up in the Des Moines suburbs. It’s everywhere – the fields of corn and soybeans go on for miles, whether you’re on a rural highway or flying through western Iowa (at a safe speed of course) on I-80. It’s not just a key part of this state, but of the entire country and economy.

As a self-described city kid who was drawn to sports and history during my formative years, farming and agriculture weren’t a part of my family’s outlook. Neither of my parents were farmers growing up or had many relatives that farmed. One or two of my dad’s uncles made their living as farmers in the panhandle of West Texas, while my maternal grandpa grew up near Pickrell, Nebraska and was a farmhand for his uncle. He didn’t stick with it, and since then farming had been nonexistent in my life. 

I went to school at Iowa State and worked for the school newspaper, the Iowa State Daily (alongside my friend and colleague Alex Gray). During that time, my love for writing, for some parts of social media, and for getting a story out only grew. I studied journalism and minored in history, splitting my time between learning about the nuances of the oxford comma and the history of Latin America. 

The opportunity to cover Iowa State athletics in multiple postseason events was a high point of my time in Ames, Iowa. I was able to travel all over the Great Plains and South to cover the Cyclones in football and men’s basketball. Some of my favorite moments were covering Iowa State-Kansas State games. With my parents and numerous other family members counting themselves as Wildcat alums, it was at once hard to remain neutral in my coverage, yet fun to be in-person for these games. After all, KSU is one of the two teams I’ve spent my whole life living and dying by every college football Saturday. 

The other team? Nebraska, also inherited from family – a result of southeastern Nebraska roots. It’s still not easy to explain to people that I’m from Iowa, but not a fan of either state school. 

Over the past three years, my time was spent with The Marshalltown Times-Republican. I was covering high school sports on a nightly basis and drove hundreds of miles around central and eastern Iowa to do so. I was passing farms and crops every day, aware of their existence but not digging deeper. 

In my second week now as a Digital Content Editor for Successful Farming, I’m jumping on the learning curve, strapping in and hoping to make up for lost time. 

When this opportunity arose and I got to learn more about the role in store for me, it was a no-brainer. It was an opportunity to join a group of people I’ve long admired and be a part of a historic company’s flagship magazine. Getting the chance to be a part of putting together Today’s News, our five-day-a-week newsletter, has been great and it’s fun to get news out to farmers in any way we can. We want to reach farmers and people in the agriculture community wherever they like to get their news and get them information that could potentially help their operations. It’s been fulfilling to play my part, whether it’s by putting out tornado prep tips on social media ahead of storms in Iowa last week or sending out a newsletter that puts a story about the USDA’s Planting Progress Report in farmers’ inboxes.

Admittedly, I’m taking a leap and changing career paths from something I’ve been an expert in for a while now to essentially starting from scratch. But in doing so, I’ve already had the chance to speak to several farmers across the country who are more than happy to help me learn. In just my fourth day on the job, a lovely farmer from western Ohio helped explain the concept of tiling. It has been so heartening to speak to these people for the first time and to pick up on insight from the SF staff, who have been nothing but gracious and kind. That might change (for one day only) when Iowa plays Nebraska this fall, though. 

Poring over the Drought Monitor’s weekly report and trying to pick out one of the many storylines to lock in on and write about has been a great way to adjust to my new surroundings. As I continue to learn, each day is presenting me with new opportunities to dig a little deeper into the world of agriculture. Honestly, there’s no better way to get to know your new job and to learn a new field than to cold-call farmers and state climatologists to talk about rain and soil. 

This adventure is off to a great start. Thanks for having me along – I’m excited to be here. 

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