BY JACKSON BOLSTAD
The University of Montana, home of the Grizzlies and a far from likely place anyone ever though this farm kid would ever end up. But, here I reside as a student and community member of UM and Missoula.
I grew up in Bobcat country, also known as eastern Montana, surrounded by agriculture on all sides. I’ll always remember moving the wheel line irrigation, picking rock and rooting for the Bobcats. So how did a country kid like me ever end up in the “land of the hippies”, as many back home in Northeastern Montana call it? The University of Montana’s nationally ranked journalism program brought me here.
In all its glory, the School of Journalism at the University of Montana has given me some of the greatest opportunities in my life. Surrounding me with friends, wonderful teachers and multitudes of opportunities to showcase my journalistic talents. Honestly, the place has really grown on me.
I began my term at UM in 2010 after graduating from Culbertson Public High School. Granted, moving 10 hours from home seemed like the best thing for this former high school senior, who had a bad case of senioritis. Once here I began to realize some of the things I took for granted back home. No more working cow, hunting, riding my horse or even just taking roadies with my friends all over the countryside. Dedicating myself to my career as a journalist helped me to cope, at least a bit.
Journalism has been a great field for me as both a writer and a rural farm kid. Who else do you know that has more ability to talk to random old fogies than country kids? I swear I’ve met more people at coffee every morning at 6 a.m. at the local café back home, than most people have met in their entire life. At the beginning, journalism was a way for me to get off the farm, but the more I realized it, journalism was keeping me connected more than ever.
Since starting at the School of Journalism, I have remained acutely aware of many facets of agriculture and the current happenings taking place in the field. Mostly this is because journalism requires me to keep up to date on everything news, but also because agriculture is something I’m particularly familiar with. During the summer of 2012, I was fortunate enough to work for the Williston Herald, a local paper in my area. While there I wrote about the farmers, ranchers, and businesses that make up rural agricultural communities. That first real journalism experience really changed my outlook on where I might want to end up some day.
Most journalists will tell you that there goal is to end up at a prestigious international newspaper, such as the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. Me, I would settle for one of those, but I think I’d rather stay connected to what I’m familiar with: agriculture, small towns and country living. It’s just the principle of it.
Some people say journalism is a dying medium, but from what I can see, rural agriculture communities will always have a want and a need for newspapers and information. I’m here to fulfill that need in the best way I can, by gaining first hand journalistic experience here at the University of Montana’s School of Journalism. By the time I graduate in a year and a half, I’ll be ready to take on any challenge and any community that will take me. Seriously though, look me up; I’ll be desperate for a job by then.