Fellow Feature: Mary Hookham

mary-hookhamLeadership Wisconsin Group XVII Fellow Feature

My name is Mary Hookham and I live in Janesville with my husband Matt. I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer working primarily for Agri-View Newspaper of Madison and am so grateful to have the career path of my dreams!

I am excited to be a member of Leadership Wisconsin Group XVII and believe it will be beneficial for my personal and professional life, both of which will benefit my community as I learn more. I intend to develop leadership skills, confidence and stronger communication skills. I believe the program will help me formulate stronger opinions about issues in our community and encourage me to become more involved in organizations about which I feel very passionate.

My agriculture background and experiences, which include growing up on a small beef and chicken farm west of Janesville, WI with my two siblings, as well as my career working as a freelance journalist, have adequately prepared me to continue down my creative and fun career path of agriculture journalism, my truest passion. I absolutely love meeting farmers, touring farms, learning about the various technologies and operating procedures on farms and then telling the stories of these farmers!

Farming is not an easy career path, so those folks who do it each day are dedicated, passionate and caring people. Bonnie Mohr, well-known agriculture artist from Minnesota, describes the profession perfectly and even successfully tugs at the reader’s heartstrings in her verse and painting called “Farming”.  Like Mohr, I have a deep and strong appreciation for farmers and their way of life. I love soaking up all the knowledge I possibly can about one of the most important industries in America, an industry that truly affects every one of us each day of our lives.

Today more than ever, consumers have an ongoing desire to know where their food comes from, and as someone with writing and photography talent, I believe it to be my job to accurately and honestly convey the messages between consumers and farmers. I enjoy acting as the bridge between the two groups in my writing in order to inform consumers of current farming practices and also to inform farmers of the needs and desires of consumers. Keeping our food supply safe and healthy is a topic of great debate. Even though plenty of folks are getting more in tune with safe, healthy and sustainable food production, there is still an alarmingly-high number of consumers who are completely out of touch with food production.

The future of humanity depends on both farmers and non-farmers preserving the land, groundwater and air quality. It’s also important to teach people how to grow their own food sustainably and economically. The connections I make from joining Leadership Wisconsin will benefit my knowledge of agriculture, providing me with a stronger foundation of knowledge, skills and experiences from which to write additional articles to help show people what really happens on Midwestern farms and how they can use that knowledge to better care for the land.  I look forward to the experiences I will continue to share with the other members of my group as well as the folks I meet along this exciting journey. The personal and professional growth each of us will obtain over the next few years will smoothly translate to community leadership centered on the issues we each hold near and dear to our hearts.

Assist Mary’s Leadership Journey by becoming a Tuition Sponsor. Contact Leadership Wisconsin at 608-263-0817.

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