By Annalise Sampson (nee Wershoven), Class of 2012
I served on the first PBHS Tornado Times staff as managing editor in 2010, and then editor-in-chief from 2011-2012. Currently, I live in a rural area of Northeast Georgia, and I work for the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. I received my BA in Anthropology from Florida Atlantic University in 2016 and my MS in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management from the University of Georgia in 2019.
Being a part of a high school publication absolutely benefitted me, both in terms of my higher education and my career. Journalism teaches you attention to detail, brevity, teamwork, and time management skills. I felt that I absolutely thrived in grad school, even in areas where others struggled, because I was able to utilize the “soft” skills that I had cultivated while working on a student publication. Being able to communicate an idea succinctly, clearly, and in a way that is understood by many is a crucial skill that journalists learn early on, and that skill translates greatly to science writing, teaching, and presenting.
In my career, I interact with hundreds of farmers and landowners a year, providing them with technical assistance to help them and their farming operations become more environmentally-friendly. This means I have to communicate new concepts and ideas to many different people. I also have to make sure that I take good notes when I visit a farm or property, and I have to make sure that I communicate well with my team, as well as state, federal, and local partner agencies. I’ve written press releases about hog trapping programs, created newsletters for the local soil and water district, and conducted interviews with farmers about poultry composting. Even when I’m just standing out in a cattle pasture, talking to a new client about cost-share programs, I am always thinking, “How can I explain this program more clearly?”
I also believe that journalism has taught me that I can always learn something from others. What’s really cool about my job is that I’m always learning something new from farmers or from my co-workers, especially since I grew up in South Florida and now I work on farms! The interview process when writing an article teaches you to listen better so that you can ask better questions, and being a better listener improves all facets of life.
My experience on the Tornado Times has been invaluable, and truly helps me every day. Student journalism is so important, no matter what career path you choose.