I t’s been more than six years since I joined Lancaster Farming.
A lot has changed since then. A new editor, two new regional editions, different special sections, a new website (thank goodness).
More than anything, though, I’ve changed.
Not only because I’m now married, have two children, a mortgage, a car payment, electric bill, cable bill ... OK, I’ll stop now. You get the point.
I now have a better appreciation of agriculture and farming than I’ve ever had in my life.
I can’t believe it, but I can actually tell the difference between chicken and cow manure now (not that I really cared in the past).
Whoopie pies are definitely a Lancaster County thing.
And yes, strawberries do grow in the ground (I’m actually admitting that I once thought strawberries grew on trees).
You can tell I was quite new to farming and rural life when I left the Star Democrat newspaper in Maryland in 2006 to join Lancaster Farming and come home to my old stomping grounds of southeastern Pennsylvania.
I always thought Lancaster Farming would be a stepping stone to something else, that it would only last a couple of years at that. But thank goodness, I never left.
My experiences with farmers and people involved in farming have been wonderful, which has opened my eyes to a world that was quite foreign to me as a child, even though I grew up in “rural” Lebanon County.
I hope to meet many more interesting and fascinating people as the new regional editor for Lancaster Farming. This week was my first on the job.
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of how to wrap this introductory editorial up, while also thinking about one more story I have to write for the main edition, and also figuring out what will go in the pages of the Northern and Southern editions.
No pressure, not at all.
But if there is one thing I like, it’s a challenge.
A little about myself. I was born in Puerto Rico and came to Lebanon County as a very small child.
I grew up in Lebanon, son of a single mother, and have two brothers.
I was a city boy, and still am in many ways, even though I now live in Richland in the eastern half of Lebanon County.
I never ventured out to a farm and didn’t see my first cow until I was perhaps 10. Yeah, pretty sad considering where I was raised.
Growing up a Phillies fan, Harry Kalas was my idol, and I actually wanted to be a sports broadcaster. But I fell in love with the written word and got a degree in communications from Penn State-Harrisburg in 2004.
My first full-time job out of college was with the Star Democrat in Easton, Md. I reported on everything from court cases to municipal meetings to local Lions Club dinners.
I still remember my first story with Lancaster Farming. It was about a young couple who were the first in Pennsylvania to participate in a new dairy incubator program.
Andrew and Mary Rose Laudenklos ended up buying a dairy farm in Maryland, which I think is fitting, considering I’m also returning to Maryland, in a way, although my feet are still firmly planted in the Keystone State.
I have some big shoes to fill. Margaret Gates was a great regional editor, and she was very supportive of me taking over her job.
But I look forward to the challenge of being the new regional editor.
If you have any story ideas, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.