I am a Renaissance Woman. I love to learn, and nearly everything interests me, which is perhaps why my career path has been a bit convoluted.
At Bradley University, I earned a degree in biotechnology but took lots of English classes. I hung out with the theater-and-art-major crowd in the local coffee shop (and met a band drummer who was to become my husband).
After graduation, I landed a yearlong science writing internship in the Legislative Research Unit of the Illinois General Assembly.
When the internship ended, I worked for the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules before getting married and starting graduate school in the Geography Department at Southern Illinois University Carbondale to study land use planning.
I earned my keep as a graduate student by editing articles and managing the manuscript review process for the journal “Water International.”
Upon graduation, I got a job as a research analyst for a consulting company that did a lot of work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
I left that job to follow Bugman to Iowa, where he was starting his doctoral program in entomology and plant pathology.
I earned money with freelance report writing and copyediting and temporary lab jobs (including a job testing dog and horse pee for illegal drug metabolites) until I found full-time work as a laboratory technician at the USDA’s National Animal Disease Center.
At the NADC I did dairy-cow-centered research work that involved biotech lab technique and animal sample collection. This was the job where I learned, among other things, how to make cows pee and how to milk mice and rats. (Yes – you read that last part right.) If you really want to bore yourself, you can read one of the research papers my work went into.
Also during this time, I became a member of Friends of International Women and got to know women from all over the world – Egypt, Turkey, Kenya, Peru, Japan, Ukraine, India.
Bugman and I began traveling abroad, for entomology events, education and pleasure.
An opportunity arose for me to work a one-year appointment as a study abroad advisor in the international programs office of the Iowa State University College of Engineering. I leapt at the chance, even staying behind in Iowa for a month to finish the work after Bugman got a postdoc back in Illinois. I had learned so incredibly much in my travels and cultural exchanges, I wanted to help other people do the same.
Shortly after my advisor job ended, we went abroad again.
I tried to get a job working with international students at the University of Illinois, but no dice. Instead, I took the next available job working with students – as a human anatomy and physiology lab instructor at Parkland College. That was an interesting first day on the job, as I’d never seen a human cadaver before. I got used to the smell of the preservatives, studied hard to stay two steps ahead of the students and really got to enjoy teaching. I even got to instruct a biology class for a few semesters. It was great fun (for the most part).
Then, Bugman got his First Real Job, and we moved to Scottsbluff, Nebraska. It can be a bit challenging as a newly arrived person to find a suitable job in a small community, even for someone with a broad experience base.
I began writing this blog.
About four months later, the editor of the regional newspaper called and asked if I wanted a job as a reporter. He’d read my blog and liked my writing. Thus began my career as a reporter for the Star-Herald. I considered it a real privilege to have people entrust their stories to me. I enjoyed writing columns and feature stories.
I managed to sneak away from reporting long enough to go abroad again.
Then the opportunity arose for me to take over as executive director / curator for a regional history museum – the North Platte Valley Museum. I love the job because I am making a contribution to the community and I AM NEVER BORED! I find it funny that some people think I sit around over there, filing my nails, waiting for people to come visit.
In addition to learning local history, museum protocols and the finer points of nonprofit organization operation and generally trying to stay on top of everything as the only paid staff person working with extremely limited funding (tax levies attempted in the past failed, so the museum runs on memberships and donations), the museum in in the process of merging with the Farm And Ranch Museum. The two museums coming together to create a one-stop-history-shopping experience for tourists makes a whole lot of sense in this ag-based community. But WHEW what a lot of work!
Which is why I don’t always get to blog as often as I would like . . . and why I haven’t yet written the Great American Novel as my mom and my writer friend Sue would like.