As we get our July 5 issue ready for print, my mind is consumed with three things: 1) Delivery of this week’s issue; 2) Tournament softball and baseball; 3) County fairs are around the corner.
As I mentioned last week, with July 4 falling on Wednesday this year, I expect you’ll be reading your Advocate News at least a day later this week. Don’t worry, our news is just as interesting and relevant today as it was yesterday!
July 3 marked the beginning of around two weeks of tournament softball and baseball. Two of our teams — Durant softball and Wilton baseball — have been ranked No. 1 this season. Both have favorable draws to play for a chance at the state tournament.
Durant softball is on a tear at the moment, with a 31-2 record and wire-to-wire reign this season as No. 1 in Class 2A. Coming off a third place finish at last year’s state tournament, the Cats are poised for a run.
We are also prepping for the Cedar County Fair (July 11-15) and Muscatine County Fair (July 18-22). While I’ll do my best to make it to each fair for at least a couple days, state softball and baseball tournaments occur July 16-28, meaning that could pose some problems with Muscatine County Fair coverage.
Enter Ann Green of the Muscatine County Extension office and Anna Sturmer, a fresh face you may see with camera in hand at this year’s county fairs representing the Advocate News.
Green has been working with the Muscatine and Scott county extension offices since November and had a vision of creating a 4-H county fair reporter position, much like the reporter position(s) at the state fair, which includes doing projects for iHeart Radio and Iowa Public Television.
“Several kids can’t travel to Des Moines. I thought we could partner with local newspapers that do a great job with fair coverage. Scott and Muscatine counties are the pilot program,” said Green.
After an extensive application process, two reporters were selected. Lauren Wall will help our affiliated North Scott Press with coverage of the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport. And Anna Sturmer will help the Advocate News with fair coverage in both Cedar and Muscatine counties.
Anna, 16, is the daughter of Kurt and Jody Sturmer and lives in Blue Grass. She went to elementary school in Blue Grass, middle school in Walcott, and currently attends high school at Davenport North where she and a friend helped breathe new life into the school paper, the Wildcat Word, a couple years ago. By the end of last school year, the Wildcat Word was once again being printed after spending a brief time as an online publication with not a lot of student interest. She was also a finalist for an emerging journalist award from the Iowa High School Press Association.
She’s also an avid photographer and active in 4-H as a member of the Blue Grass Denim & Dust club, where she serves as treasurer. Not only will she be helping us with photographing this year’s fairs, she’ll also be showing horses and dairy goats. Her other interests within 4-H include family and consumer science activities such as sewing and baking, and woodworking.
“I’m looking forward to getting to experience different parts of the fairs,” said Sturmer. “To see things I haven’t seen and to gain a deeper understanding and respect for the fairs.”
For Ann Green and I, we hope this partnership becomes the norm, with the goal of continuing to help bring pieces of the fair home to our readers while at the same time helping eager 4-Hers flourish and develop skills they can use all their lives.
“The main skill 4-H teaches is leadership. This is an awesome leadership opportunity,” said Green. “For 4-Hers, communication and the arts are important too. This helps in those areas. I’m hoping for great success in our counties and that this can spread through the state.”
I couldn’t agree more. So when you see Anna Sturmer, or I, around the county fairs this year, don’t hesitate to say hello and/or point us in the direction of the next great memory just waiting to be captured.