The toughest beat in the world is the land itself

By Brendan Gibbons

When people ask me what I plan to do with my life, I tell them I want to be an investigative journalist who covers the environment. The only problem is, I haven’t actually done any of that yet. I’ve been to city council and school board meetings. I’ve scribbled notes at pressies and traipsed around the state capitol in Jefferson City. I’ve written dozens of spot news stories about little milestones here and there, but I have never taken on something as massive, primal and confusing as the landscape itself.

Environmental journalism forces us to consider our relationship to the earth and, therefore, our identities. Social ethics collide with land ethics in places where traces of wildness remain. I only recently began to see the landscape through other people’s eyes. Even though I spent my youth exploring the outdoors, I couldn’t see the intricate scientific, social, historical and political layers that paint the landscape different shades for different people. But I think I’m ready now.

Covering the school board is easy. In a way, it took 22 years of life experiences and a year of courses in natural resources to prepare me for this weekend. I’m a fifth-year senior, and I’m ready to launch. I see the FRI as my launch pad, the surface that will accommodate all my force as I break away into open air.

— Edited by Cade Cleavelin

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