Just doing my job

If it were possible to bottle up kindness, excitement and surprise, I think my bottle would be overflowing after this past week.

What would I do with that bottle?

Well, I’d wait until I had one of those awful days, where nothing seems to go right and no one seems to be happy … we all have those, I know … and then I would take the lid off and soak up the sunshine.

My faithful Farm Bleat readers are aware that I spent last week in New Orleans and Atlanta on a Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council-sponsored See For Yourself mission trip. My trip was completely funded by the state’s soybean association in exchange for writing stories about the places we saw, the people we met and the fellow SFY participants’ experiences.

It was a wonderful journey, and I had a great time getting to know nearly two dozen farmers and agribusiness professionals from all across the state.

Midway through the trip, I received a call from my publisher, Joni Harms, who was at the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s annual convention in Bloomington. She called to say I’d earned first place on a human interest feature story I’d written about a family of Sudanese refugees. The article about Abang Ojullo and her children was published in the Daily Globe last June.

Joni’s call came as I was perusing trinkets in the gift shop at the New Orleans Airport with three other women on the SFY trip. Well, it didn’t take long before they spread the news to the entire contingent and I was inundated with congratulations. Being recognized for an award is humbling enough, but when nearly two dozen people began referring to me as an award-winning reporter, it became rather embarrassing.

Just as I was coming down off my SFY high, I was presented with the Rock-Nobles Cattlemen’s Association Service Award at the RNCA’s annual banquet Monday night in Luverne.

Now, as Matt Widboom told the nearly 250 people in attendance, it took some wrangling on his part to get me to the banquet.

I’d like to explain why.

When Matt invited me to attend, he said he was working on getting an important speaker to talk during the evening. Despite my request for the speaker information, I never heard back from him. So when Monday afternoon rolled around, I’d essentially decided not to go … after all, the weather was rather nasty.

Enter my boss, Ryan, who basically told me I had to attend. Well, there was another call to Matt on Monday afternoon … I still wanted to know who the speaker was … and he still wouldn’t tell me.

Bottom line, there was no speaker. I found that out after being called to the podium, where Matt presented me with an award in recognition of my years of reporting the agricultural issues of southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa. Yep, he had me fooled and shocked all at once … and again, I felt very humbled.

Being recognized for one’s work is always nice, but I want people to know that I’m just doing my job … some days better than others. I feel like there are never enough hours in the day to get done what needs to get done. News never quits, and sometimes, it feels like I can’t either.

Last week, one of the SFY participants asked me if I liked my job. I looked him in the eye and said, "Yes. Most days." It’s like any job … highs and lows, peaks and valleys.

It’s true that the profession doesn’t pay well. Yes, I put in far more time than what I ever get paid for. Absolutely, I deal with constant deadlines. Yet, at the same time, there are so many perks … like meeting new people and chatting with long-time sources, sleeping in on days when I have to work late, free trips from Minnesota Farm Bureau and MSR&PC and, on occasion, an appreciative phone call, a thank-you note, a box of chocolates or even a bouquet of flowers from people I’ve interviewed.

There’s a saying I keep on my computer desk at home … "We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds."

It keeps me grounded.

While the words in the stories I write are read by thousands each day, in the end, they are just words. Most end up lining a pet cage or getting stuffed in the recycling bin. My hope is that somewhere in between reading the stories and tossing them away, people will learn something … perhaps be called to act, or even just appreciate life a little more.

Thank-you to the RNCA for the beautiful plaque … it will be a constant reminder that our region’s farmers not only need, but deserve, to be heard on the issues important in agriculture today and for years to come.

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