Who Is That Girl I see, Staring Straight Back at Me

So I’m not Mulan, but I’m about to do some serious self-reflection on what I learned during this semester.

Photo taken by Laurel Rigby.

As I reviewed my first blog post and reflected on the goals I hoped to reach, I realize that they were kind of one sided. I hoped to learn more about the community, which I did, but I didn’t include any of the new production skills I was going to soon learn. I learned so much about how to properly record audio and video stories and the important tips and components required to make them of quality. I also learned an immense amount about editing and the post-production programs for each.

I didn’t form any production skills/concepts I expected to learn from this class, but clearly exceeded those expectations. Since we were actually forced to navigate and apply these editing programs on our own assignments, I learned so much more than if we would’ve just reviewed them in class. I had to put forth real effort to truly learn the ins and outs of the editing software and I’m really happy about that looking back.

Perhaps the most important skills I learned through this course were the soft skills though. Taking photographs of the public and being forced to ask their name and title was a big step in creating the braveness/confidence aspect, I also learned a ton from the conceptual side of things. It is so important to plan a project beforehand and following through with those plans are just as crucial, it is also important to be able to listen well and be able to adapt in situations that don’t follow the bricks you’ve laid in your mind. Being a good critical thinker is key when editing in post-production and being able to look critically at your work and just when you think you have it done, ask how can I make this better?

The web story assignment was the best at testing my interpersonal communications skills. I literally went into Bart’s Flea Market and waited for customers to come in to ask them if I could interview them. I had hoped to interview a vendor and luckily ran into one. I feel this really upped my annie in the outgoing side of interviewing, it required some serious courage to go up and talk to complete strangers and see if I could ask them some questions and record them, luckily most of them were kind and willing to help. It also took some patience to be able to wait like I did but it ended up adding into the honesty of the story as well, I didn’t bias the interviews by searching for them and got differing views on the subject.

I found the video story project the most meaningful because it ties in aspects from the entire semester, from photography, to video and even editing skills. This assignment also required a lot of soft skills like interviewing, planning and determining what perspective to take on the matter. I also really loved the end product and being able to still use a creative side within the project, from the unique angles used to shoot video to the editing process of being able to add in music and transitions. Shooting B-roll footage for this project was my favorite. There was also a personal meaningful aspect in creating this video. I love being able to promote agriculture and it felt pretty great to be able to generate something that can inform students on campus.

The audio assignment had to be the most challenging for me. However, it was also one of my favorites because of how meaningful it was to the interviewee. I really struggled with the editing software for this project. While it was rather easy to form the right questions and create the interview that I had imagined, I faced a lot of challenges in post-production. I really disliked how many times I had to convert the file back and forth. I also had a heck of a time maneuvering through editing chunks of myself talking and unnecessary information from my interviewee and still making the entire audio file flow. On the bright side, it turned out far better than my initial expectation and I had a lot of fun creating a promotional Instagram post to go along with it.

This is the promotional Instagram post I made with Canva.
When I showed it to the interviewee she cried, it was kind of a pivotal moment of realization in just how journalism can affect people.

If I could go back in time I would tell myself to find new ways to promote the field you love rather than focusing so much on diversifying yourself. I had such big plans to get involved in world news and the truth is, it’s just not that interesting to me. Instead of wasting my energy worrying about that, invest it into promoting the livestock industry or finding new ways to inform the public about agriculture as a whole. It is important to keep in mind that being diversified is still a necessity in the field of journalism and that you can be an expert in certain areas at the same time.

All in all, I’m proud as a peacock of how some of my projects turned out. I had to push myself to branch out of my comfort zone and test new styles, concepts, programs and forms of journalism.

It’s crazy that this is the last assignment I am completing of my undergrad work and even more bizarre that I’m graduating tomorrow. What a great class to end things out on. I am excited to continue my education here at the University of Wyoming in the graduate program. As always, go poke.

The Cooler Full of Secrets

Okay, so the University of Wyoming Meat Laboratory is not actually full of secrets but a lot of students and even faculty don’t know a whole lot about it. The truth is, the meat lab is pretty awesome. This week’s blog post will highlight a video story assignment. Our primary goal for this project was to inform the students, faculty and general public about all the goods the UW meat lab has to offer for both students and consumers.

The meat lab is ran strictly by students, one manager and an inspector. The animals are supplied by the university’s school farm and local livestock producers and creates consumable products for the public. In fact, if you see a set of snack sticks in vending machines around campus, the odds that they were made from the meat lab and the Cowboy Branded Meats program are highly likely. The meat lab primarily harvest pigs, sheep and cattle.

The meat lab was built in 1986 and is made up of the entire works needed to run a facility of this caliber including: a slaughter floor, carcass coolers, a fabrication room, a processing room, a ready-to-eat cooler, inedible coolers, dry goods storage, non-meat storage, freezers, locker rooms, offices and a sales room. It is also the only research laboratory in the United States with a pelt puller. All products in the meat lab are made under state inspection. Most students employed by the meat lab are also members of the UW Food Science Club and use the same space to prepare meals for catering services.

I really enjoyed using my creative knowledge and incorporating my love for photography into this project. It was an interesting concept using unique angles that would normally be done to take a photograph and transferring that into shooting video. For once, I actually enjoyed the editing process. Determining what order to put our interviews and B-roll footage in was challenging in a good way. The element of testing different transitions, cutting video and adding sound was just plain fun. I absolutely loved watching everything fall into place and seeing the end product of our video. Honestly, the only thing I did not enjoy was realizing we needed model forms the night before this project was due.

I was surprised at how easy it was to edit the video in post-production. Maybe it was just the editing program we chose, which was iMovie, but it seemed much easier for an amateur to navigate than other programs previously used in this course. I wish we would’ve shot our videos horizontally, rookie mistake, we know. However, the final video still shows relevant background shots and looks interesting to the viewer which was another goal of ours.

I can see myself using this element of marketing the most out of everything from this class. It seems that in today’s world younger generations are very intrigued by videos so if I can somehow incorporate this into my future career, I’ll be clicking my heels. This could be a great way to not only inform the public by covering certain business or company events, but also involving them by doing farm/ranch spotlights and interviews about what they’re doing to be successful in their specific field of agriculture.

I Bumped Uglies With Canva

Logo provided by the Canva website.

I have had Instagram for about 6 years and use it on the daily. It is one of my go-to social media apps because I love pictures and am a very visual person. Canva, on the other hand, threw me for a loop. While I really liked getting to play around with different templates and designing a post that I thought was aesthetically pleasing, Canva and I really did “bump uglies.” I rolled through the first couple designs relatively quick but the last two took me a good chunk of time. I changed templates countless times. They either didn’t fit the format I wanted or didn’t look how I had hoped and some of the designs I had in my head just turned out plain ugly, so back to square one I went.

Some of the challenges I went through were trying to find the right design that would get my point across or elements I thought were necessary to understand what the post was about without overloading the image with text and designs. I found a happy medium with short phrases and based color schemes off of images that were in the post itself so that the post would “flow.” I also used all of my own images, aside from stock pictures or backgrounds that added to the mood of the post, to show off my ability to take quality photos and also editing skills.

I wanted to use fonts I considered pretty or fun and also designs that were upbeat and easy to look at. That is primarily what I wanted the posts to do, create a desire for viewers to go look at what I had to say about the blog posts and something that would portray my talent in the media and writing world.

I really enjoyed the aspect of starting from ground zero and letting the ideas in my head come to life and also playing with different templates and making them my own. I was a little surprised at how tedious the designing process can be, for example, how moving the text one millimeter can make the design look immensely better or using halves in fonts to get just the right fit and playing with bolding and italicizing of words.

My Instagram Page

Overall, I really enjoyed this assignment. I can see myself not only using Canva for personal use and promotion but also in my future career. This would be a great way to draw viewers in from social media to read a business website or get interested in a new event coming up.

Wyoming State FFA Convention

Photo courtesy of the Wyoming FFA Organization Website.

The Wyoming State FFA Convention is an annual event where FFA members from the 53 Wyoming FFA chapters travel to Cheyenne, Wyoming. State convention is a place where members compete, get recognized for their efforts throughout the year, induct new state officers and socialize. FFA members can compete in numerous categories like career development events (CDE), leadership development events (LDE) and also present their supervised agricultural experience (SAE) to a panel of judges to get recognized for their individual projects.

I covered the first general session of the 92nd annual convention on April 11th after a wrench was thrown into plans. The first scheduled session on April 10th was cancelled by the mayor due to harsh weather conditions. During session 1.5, which ran much longer than most sessions, FFA members in the talent competition performed on stage, current state officers gave their retiring addresses, awards and accolades were given and guest speakers gave their two cents.

I chose to take a journalistic approach since I am a past FFA member myself and a coach for an FFA chapter competing in a state CDE, I thought this would be more challenging for me since I had previous involvement. I tried to inform the public about the event and the interesting yet important components.

I thoroughly enjoyed the internal challenge of choosing what to deem tweet-worthy and not. I wanted to cover the event thoroughly but also not go overboard to the point that it could be annoying to my followers. I actually got more interaction with my tweets than I was expecting and surprisingly received feedback from someone who was backstage and was unable to watch convention, they said, “I really appreciated your tweets because I felt like I got to be a part of session even though I wasn’t watching.”

At first I was hesitant to use my own account but I wanted people to be able to see my tweets and settled on the idea of just sticking to my current one rather than creating a new profile. I didn’t like being on my phone during the event because the convention hall is completely dark so I felt like I was being distracting to others in attendance because of the glow of my screen. The other thing I struggled with was how to incorporate relevant hashtags into my tweets, I actually looked up the Wyoming FFA profile on twitter and gathered some ideas from that. I also created a hashtag for this year’s theme which was #forgeyourlegacy.

Well first off, I wish I would’ve written this blog on time, I had completed my tweets well in advance of the due date but completely spaced the deadline because it’s that time in the semester where students have a huge work load and become delirious. In all seriousness, I did learn a lot from this rather simple assignment. The most important thing I learned was how to maintain a journalistic approach on a media platform usually used for personal views. I was actually surprised by how natural it came to cover a live event since I have never done this before, but it was most likely due to my past experiences and familiarity of the event.

I can see myself using live-tweeting in my future careers as a great promotional tool. This is a great platform to not only reach multiple audiences on but to also inform the public on big events a company or business hosts. I feel both of those are very important since the agriculture industry is one that the public generally does not know enough about.

RMJSS Sanctioned Jackpots

The Rocky Mountain Jackpot Show Series Logo
Provided by the RMJSS website

While most kids spend their summer days enjoying the sun and relaxing during their break from school, it’s the start of a season full of work for 4-H and FFA members. These stock show kids spend this season preparing their livestock projects and on the road traveling to jackpot shows to ultimately prepare for their local or state fairs. The Rocky Mountain Jackpot Show Series is a program where members can show and earn points on their livestock projects. The RMJSS serves youth in the states of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

The point system updates throughout the show season and grants points to those who are placed or ranked in the upper echelon at sanctioned shows. The point value depends upon their placing and are granted for both showmanship and quality across all livestock species, including cattle, sheep, goats and hogs. Showmanship is critiqued by the judge on how well the youth and their livestock work together in the show ring to present the animal in the best possible way. The quality division is judged upon the quality of that project relative to its end purpose, whether that be market or breeding.

In the words of the Wyoming 4-H Program Coordinator, Johnathon Despain, “The RMJSS series is a great incentive for youth to truly hone in on their abilities all summer long. This drives youth to be the best they can before they even get to their respected end of the road shows.”

The RMJSS also hosts the Rocky Mountain Jackpot Show Series finale in Heber City, Utah and this year’s show is dated for July 18-20. The finale is not only another great incentive for youth to gather as many points as they can throughout the show season to be recognized as the overall high individual in one or more categories but also another separate show by itself.

With the RMJSS sanctioned shows being scattered all over the the western states, 4-H and FFA members in Laramie, Wyoming still have the option to travel to quite a few without covering too many miles.

RMJSS sanctioned shows within >300 miles from Laramie, Wyoming are as follows:

The Moffat County Jackpot in Craig, Colorado on May 19. This jackpot is a market show with divisions for beef, lamb, goats and swine. The Moffat County Jackpot will also have showmanship classes for each division but no breeding classes will be available.

The Oil City Jackpot Show is in Casper, Wyoming on the Natrona County fairgrounds during May 25-26. This show has two days of shows with two separate judges to evaluate showmanship and quality of market cattle, swine, goats and sheep. The show has payouts of $200 for grand champions and pays all the way into fourth place. Proceeds will fund the Natrona County Goat Project.

The Laramie County Progress Show is held at the Frontier Park in Cheyenne, Wyoming on May 25-26. Saturday is a showmanship only day, and Sunday is the quality evaluation day. All livestock species are welcome including sheep, goats, cattle and hogs. Youth ages 4-21 are eligible to show. The grand champion will earn $300 and the reserve $150 with all species in quality and showmanship included.

The Park County Summer Sizzle Jackpot will be held in Powell, Wyoming on June 2. Their is no added money in this jackpot meaning all entry fees are put towards the payout of winners. The payout will be divided between the grand and reserve champion in each market division only, no other places will be paid.

The Dino-Mite Classic is held at the Western Park in Vernal, Utah. This show allows for all species and offers a lot of prizes outside of money like buckles, blankets and a new exhibitor award. This is a two day show with two separate judges on June 7-8.

The Wild West Showdown Jackpot is in Sheridan, Wyoming on June 14-16. This show offers division for market swine, sheep, goats and cattle along with breeding cattle and showmanship as well. Over $8000 was paid out to exhibitors in the previous year. They also have other events that youth can enjoy during the show.

The George Reich Memorial Show is in Casper, Wyoming at the Casper College Grace Werner Agriculture Pavilion on June 15. This show is a one species show for market and breeding cattle only along with showmanship. It offers points to not only the RMJSS but the Natrona County Bred and Fed show as well and also offers a separate steer show. It is hosted by the Casper FFA Alumni and Burger Stand.

The I-80 Extravaganza is in Ralwins, Wyoming on June 29. It is a jam-packed show with a separate judge for each species. There are also breeding and market divisions for each species accompanied with showmanship.

Johnathon Despain sums up the show series rather well, he says, “The series is not only a great chance to show off kids’ hard earned project but to also meet new people, make new friends and have fun, that’s what summer is all about anyways.”

An Audio Profile About Kaytlin’s Academic Adversities

Kaytlin Hokanson takes her first steps at the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, Wyoming the day after her car accident and femur surgery. Photo courtesy of Kaytlin Hokanson
Kaytlin Hokanson of Kaycee, Wyoming. Bright eyed, fearless and determined to finish her academic career. Photo taken by Laurel Rigby.

The interviewing experience was very fun. Kaytlin is one of my good friends and because we had to redo the interview a few times, due to mistakes from both parties, there were a lot of laughs. I enjoyed getting to know more about Kaytlin’s accident and how she has overcome the aftermath that followed. This isn’t the first time I’ve audio recorded someone during an interview but it was the first time having a time restriction, which was definitely the toughest part. My audio editing experience was a struggle to say the least. I am very unfamiliar with the editing software and having to convert the files several times was a pain. I did enjoy getting to compare the first file to the edited one. I also really liked getting to use my creative imagination on what parts to include and what to cut out. However, the part I did not enjoy was trying to keep the audio file smooth as it would be in a conversation but I was not very successful with this. Taking a portrait with the audio file was rather easy, since that is what I am familiar with. I did face the challenge of using the photo to reveal their personality. I settled on the picture I chose because it was a candid smile, bare faced photo of Kaytlin which is what she is, a very natural, happy country girl. What surprised me about this assignment was how long the editing process took. Even with the warnings of being sure to plan for twice the length of the audio file for time editing, it took me way longer. My total editing time was upwards of 4 1/2 hours. I wish I would’ve asked for tips and help making the file smoother in the areas I had to cut out. I can see myself making and editing audio in my future career by using it as a marketing tool for promoting myself and my own brand or a company I work for. I could use it to describe how to use a new piece of equipment or product or even audio record important meetings and then post them to inform the public.

The Poor Man’s Museum-Bart’s Flea Market

Bart’s Flea Market is a unique store that resembles much like a treasure hunt. With a 4.5 rating and moderate price range on Yelp.com, shoppers are sure to find any and everything they don’t need in this funky store. Bart’s is Wyoming’s largest indoor flea market selling antiques year-round with hours from 10am to 6pm. The antique store is even recommended on the Visit Laramie website.

Bart’s Flea Market, formerly known as Gibson’s, is located on Soldier Springs Road in Laramie, Wyoming. Bart’s has been running for over 20 years but only owned by Gary Crawford (current owner) the last 9 years. Bart’s Flea Markets’ name derives from the original owner’s dog. Although there is another Bart’s in Cheyenne, they have not been paired businesses, “for quite some time,” according to Albert Tremblay.

Bart’s Flea Market offers allocated plots for outside vendors to bring in their own nifty stuff to sell. Tremblay said, “We rent space for $1.50 by the square foot and with over 120 booths and 90 vendors, this is our main income.” Bart’s has an annual income that ranges from $500,000 to $1 million.

They have everything from antique finds to jewelry, books and clothing. They even have corky items like an old cow scrotum basket filled with flowers. They have beginner cowboy items like leather, saddles and boots. The front sidewalk is even filled with items for sale like rustic wagon wheels and windmill parts. Bart’s has everything a college student could need to furnish an apartment including furniture and dish ware. They also have a sunlit succulent section, and Bart’s wouldn’t be complete without it’s eccentric wildlife mounts found in the very back.

Albert Tremblay, known as Al, is the current manager and has been an employee for three years now. He is originally from Syracuse, New York. He was brought to Laramie to remain closer to his son. Tremblay is known for his eclectic 1800’s western fashion sense. The shorter statured, weathered man is easily identifiable with his classic coke-bottle glasses and silver muttonchops beard. He is the primary caretaker of Bart’s Facebook page and the creator of the comical bear videos. He acts out scenes with items in the store and builds stories around them, he says his goal is, “for people to not forget about Bart’s.” Tremblay comes out with new ones every two days and says he gets his ideas from, “just walking around.” 

Seth Tastad, one of the many vendors at Bart’s, was born and raised in Laramie. He is a building caretaker at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. He has been supplying items in his own booth to Bart’s for seven or eight years. His niche is old tools, knives and clocks. He finds a lot of interest in military history, especially around the 1800’s-1900’s era. He also sells stuff on his own eBay account like the more specialized, expensive items. He primary finds his articles from garage sale hunting and finds stuff in Iowa and Georgia when he visits family along with antique stores. Tastad also says, “It’s a way for me to get rid of hoard stuff from family.”

This is one of Seth Tastad’s items in his vendor booth.

“No matter how long you look, you can still find new stuff, there’s always something,” comments Tastad.

As a vendor he says, “there is a family atmosphere here once you get to know the people.” Ruth Williams, with her vibrant red lipstick and blonde hair, is originally from England and is a frequent customer. She came to Laramie with her husband, who works at the University of Wyoming, 15 years ago and owns a cupcake business known as the Sugar Mouse Cupcake House. Her sweet tooth business keeps a child in an orphanage in Cambodia for one day longer and she states, “This is to keep them out of the hands of child trafficking.” She comes to Bart’s to search for weird stuff but was specifically looking for display cases on March 6th. Williams appreciates the very fun people and, “really hopes this place stays open.” 

Williams also says, “I love all the weird new stuff in this antique store,” and rarely does she ever leave empty handed when she visits.

Tremblay refers to Bart’s as a, “poor man’s museum.” There is a sense of history in the antiques and you can see each vendor’s passions from booth to booth. He also stated, “Gary loves western history and is a talented artist.” It’s evident that all the employees and owner love this store and have made it a lifestyle.

Even though Tremblay says, “Business from college students has been down with the growing trend of fully furnished apartments,” Bart’s still gets a lot of customers from the University. Tremblay said once most customers come in for the first time, they return. This store could be a college student’s dream for a fun day trip and the secretaries at the front said, “we see a lot of photography and art students in here.”