Hello, readers! I am Isabelle Foland, and I have been the Missouri Valley Times-News’ intern reporter for this summer, as I was last summer. I am writing this article as a farewell since I will soon be returning to the University of Iowa to start my sophomore year.
A new and exciting development in my life is that I will now have an apartment in Iowa City rather than living in the dorms as I did last year. While this is very exciting and I am very much looking forward to this new milestone in my life, it is also bittersweet as this apartment means I will now truly have a home away from my home in Missouri Valley, which I grew up in my whole life.
Looking back on my time spent reporting for Harrison County this summer and last, I have come to realize just how important this position has been to kick starting my budding journalistic career. Last summer, I found myself reporting mostly on the Missouri Valley City Council and the Harrison County Board of Supervisors, two meetings which I had never stepped foot in or even read a single sentence of the minutes of in my entire life. Everything was intimidating to me, and at the start, I felt like I may have been in over my head in terms of governmental processes and jargon. However, by the end of that summer, my internship had helped me secure several scholarships, a position at the University of Iowa’s official college newspaper, The Daily Iowan, and most importantly, it helped me build confidence and foster my love for local government.
Last school year at The Daily Iowan, I once again found myself in an environment where I felt intimidated by the coverage in front of me. Now, though, I was in a town that I just moved to, was largely unfamiliar with, and knew no one from. However, I pushed through and ended up loving my job and experiences there. I covered many big stories from the Iowa City City Council, including a few that I got the “scoop” on over other Iowa City-based papers, and I even had the chance to travel to Des Moines to help cover the midterm elections. These achievements are all thanks to my first ever experience as a reporter with the Times, and I am forever thankful to the community that welcomed and encouraged me along the way.
This summer at the Times, I found myself back in familiar territory with local city councils and the county supervisors, which were once again very helpful and responsive to all my questions. This internship has once again solidified my passion for journalism, especially local government, which is why I also want to take some space in this article to encourage anyone reading this to keep up to date with the happenings of their local governmental bodies.
Sitting through meetings or reading through meeting agendas and minutes may not sound appealing to most, and to be frank, sometimes it isn’t appealing to me either (especially when I know I have a mountain of homework to address when I get back home from a six-hour long city council meeting). But I would encourage everyone to give attending your local city council or board of supervisors meeting a try. The thing I love most about local government is that the people that hold positions on those councils and boards truly have a love and dedication to their city and county. Those people are not big-wig politicians with special interest groups lining their pockets and whispering in their ears, separated from their hometown constituents by Capitol walls; these are people you can run into at the gas station down the street, dropping their kids off at school, or relaxing at the city pool. They have other day jobs and are genuinely just as interested in seeing those potholes filled on main street as you are. The work they do and decisions they make are happening right in front of you, so it is important to get to know these people and what they are up to at those meetings so you can stay informed and involved in how your city operates. So please, take the time to attend a meeting or so a month and help to make the city you live in a better place.
Another thing I would like to say is thank you to the Times staff, my friends, and my family for all the support I have had throughout my higher education journey. I would not be in the position I am today without you all, and I cannot thank you enough. I look forward to seeing how Harrison County grows while I am away. If anyone would like to keep up with me during the school year, you can find my articles for free on The Daily Iowan’s website, as well as other great articles from my extremely talented coworkers. Thank you all again, and I can’t wait to visit in the future.