Sonja Hillgren Institute

March 9, 2010 06:00 PM

The Sonja Hillgren/ Farm Journal Ag Journalism Field Reporting Institute

In remembrance of Sonja Hillgren, FARM JOURNAL is funding an experience for journalism students that will allow her spirit to live on. The Sonja Hillgren/FARM JOURNAL Ag Journalism Field Reporting Institute is the backbone of "Field Reporting on Food and Natural Resources,” an Agricultural Journalism course at the University of Missouri–Columbia in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

The Institute explores the vast scientific, economic and social changes under way in U.S. agriculture and their impact on the food supply and the environment. Students meet, learn from and interview leading researchers, government officials, food industry representatives, farmers and others—out in the fields, on the rivers and at the facilities where these issues take shape.

The 2009 Sonja Hillgren Institute
Beverley Kreul, 2009 Sonja Hillgren Institute
Tim Stanton takes a step back and admires his work. Another white oak tree stands straight and sturdy on the hillside of the Lead Mine Conservation Area outside of Tunas, Mo. More than 30 years of work has been put into this particular tree, and soon will come the time to reap the rewards.
Morgan Ledermann, 2009 Sonja Hillgren Institute
It is 5:30 a.m. One of the employees of Focal Dairy, near Harwood, Mo., walks a string of dairy cows into the barn for their morning milking after a night of foraging and relaxing in the green pastures adjacent to the dairy barn. 
Teresa Shipley, 2009 Sonja Hillgren Institute
Cattle farmer Bob Sell surveyed the damage to his field near Warsaw, Mo., with weary eyes. A large swath of earth lay ripped up and exposed like it'd been slashed with knives. He knew he'd lost acres of hay.
Kathleen Sprouse, 2009 Sonja Hillgren Institute
Lining up like children at a carnival, hundreds of cows wait for their ride around the milking carousel. Fifty cows quietly ride side-by-side around the concrete platform at Focal Dairy in Harwood, Mo.
Margaret Berglund, 2009 Sonja Hillgren Institute
Missouri Department of Conservation wildlife assistant Kevin King held a two-foot-tall branched antenna and carefully rotated it, listening for beeps amid the static emitted from a handheld receiver, searching.
Josh Chittum, 2009 Sonja Hillgren Institute
Mike Meier is a fourth-generation dairy farmer. That was going to change. Three years ago he nearly gave up the family business. He was tired of the long, hard days. 

The 2008 Sonja Hillgren Institute

The 2007 Sonja Hillgren Institute

Stories Generated from the Sonja Hillgren Institute
Murky Waters (as published in the Columbia Missourian)
Katie Harmon, 2007 Sonja Hillgren Institute
Under the currents of the Missouri River lies a murky world where the currency is not water but sediment … Over the past century, the system's economy has been faltering. Signs from Kansas City to the Gulf indicate the river's sediment — or lack of it — might have lasting environmental and economic ramifications.
***Katie's story was awarded first place in the In-Depth Reporting category of the annual Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards for Region 7, which includes Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.
Kristina Sherry, 2007 Sonja Hillgren Institute
A giant, nine-pronged, John Deere combine steadily plows its way through a cornfield on Warren Stemme's 1,100-acre farm in eastern Missouri. 
Jennifer Meyer, 2007 Sonja Hillgren Institute
The view of Locust Creek from the iron bridge in Pershing State Park on Sept. 15 was a bleak one. The creek had all but dried up. Sandbars spanned the stream like miniature beaches. The smell of rot permeated the air. Death for the creek, and the wet prairie that depends on it for water, seemed imminent.
Su Jing, 2007 Sonja Hillgren Institute
Wearing waterproof neoprene hip waders, Jason Dattilo jumps from a monitoring motorboat onto a small island of mud near the shore of the Missouri River at Waverly, Mo. Struggling toward a trammel net in the water, he sometimes has to use his hands to pull one leg out before moving the other one because his waders keep getting stuck in the gooey mud. With the help of his colleagues, he hauls the trammel onto the island.

To Contribute
With your support, this Institute will be able to grow and offer an expanded perspective of the industry that Sonja covered for more than 30 years, including the addition of a policy component to its curriculum.

Contribute to the Sonja Hillgren/Farm Journal Ag Journalism Field Reporting Institute. Click here to fill out the contribution form. The completed forms can be faxed to (573) 884-8174.

Donations can be made online at Select "Other” as the fund site and note "Sonja Hillgren/Farm Journal Ag Journalism Field Reporting Institute” in the box below.

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