Nelson's View

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The new adventures of Journalism Jen

There's nothing like walking across a golf course in a skirt, pantyhose and thankfully no heels on a cold, windy Monday to get photos, but where's the adventure in dressing practically? I haven't been a reporter for that long but I have lived in Iowa practically my whole life so you'd think I'd have the weather figured out by now.

I moved to Storm Lake, from North Platte, NE a couple of weeks ago to start here at the Pilot. How did I end up in Nebraska? Just being adventurous after college I guess. It was 10 hours from my home near Forest City. When I think about it though I'm not sure I should use the words adventurous and Nebraska in the same sentence. Fortunately my career as a reporter made up for any lack of adventure. I've found that I could never sit behind a desk for 40 hours, nothing wrong with it, just not for me.

As a reporter I've gotten the opportunity to meet all sorts of interesting people like a cup stacking champ who appeared on the 'Regis and Kelly show," learned about everything I could ever want to know about anything and took part in many excursions including a tour of the largest rail yard in the world (North Platte is home to Bailey Yard) during an event that attracted people from at least 40 of the 50 states. It was a first time event but railroad enthusiasts flocked from everywhere.

Some of my adventures had me walking or rather tiptoeing through livestock lots trying not to step in manure (hoping that if I did step in some it'd wear off before I got back to the newsroom) as I interviewed farmers. One rancher taught me about Lowline cattle, which is a smaller breed of Angus and quite docile. He and his wife actually took me out to meet their cattle and introduced me to each one. I've also learned not to stick around interviewing farmers too long or they'll put you to work.

On one adventure I found myself at an ag field day for high schoolers. One highlight was having the chance to stick your hand/arm into the stomach of a cow. This fistulated cow had a hole that was cut in her side so you could see right into her stomach and study the digestive process and the chewed up food. I passed up the offer to stick my own hand in.

One of the most heartwarming adventures I had was watching as the members of the National Guard unit returned from Iraq. I watched in awe as each soldier was reunited with their family. It was a sea of kissing, hugging and cries of happy tears. However, one soldier with the unit didn't make it home. I asked one couple about their plans, now that he was home. To go on their honeymoon, they said. They had gotten married just before he left.

One of the hardest and most emotional adventures - and almost dreaded - I had was writing a story about the funeral of Gary Scharf, one of the victims of the Omaha Westroads Mall shooting this past December. He was from around the North Platte area originally.

When I moved to North Platte I didn't know anything about the town or the people so that made it the adventure. By the time I left I knew more about the town than I'd ever care to know.

Now onward, to my Storm Lake adventure.

* Jennifer Nelson in a new addition to the Pilot-Tribune's news staff.