In March 2003, I accepted a job offer to work for the Daily Citizen, intending it to be temporary. I needed something to help me make ends meet until I could continue my career in technical writing.

Somehow, “temporary” became 14 years.

My career as a journalist ends today.

I opted to leave to shift gears in my career by pursuing a new writing challenge. I will consider myself fortunate if it teaches me even half as much as I learned as a journalist.

I flubbed my first photo assignment, too flustered taking photographs at an event to get the names of the people. My beat included Randolph, Cambria and Friesland as an associate editor for the weekly Neighbors paper, while also providing news as a staff reporter for the Citizen. Over the years as the Daily Citizen newsroom downsized – along with newspapers across the nation – my beat expanded to include Fox Lake, and most recently, the Waupun Area School District. I took over the Saturday-Sunday Lifestyles section in 2009, helping plan the content in each issue.

Working as a journalist allowed me flexibility in my work schedule. I could drop my son off when school started, make time to volunteer in his schools’ libraries and adjusted my hours so that I could help coach middle school track for six years. Working for the Daily Citizen helped improve my photography, as well as my research and writing skills. I learned how to make an interview feel like a conversation and honed my ability to multitask.

I could no sooner pick a favorite story written than I could pick a favorite book. I confess I tended to favor any opportunity to go “back” to school. What I could do is make a list of the stories I struggled to write – in agony over getting it right. Some stories made me laugh, others made me cry. I strove to find good news to share to help balance the bad.

So much happened in the communities I cover, in this country and around the world. I started the job in my late 20s with a son in the first grade. I leave in my 40s with a son in college.

Natural disasters, particularly floods, hit the communities I live in and cover. School districts continue to struggle with budgets and aging infrastructures, but enough voters supported building referendums in Cambria-Friesland, Randolph, Beaver Dam, Waupun and Mayville to allow those districts to make improvements.

As a journalist, I developed a new appreciation of the importance of the First Amendment of the Constitution, and took pride in representing the freedom of the press.

As I leave my journalism career, I urge you to become active in local government and civic organizations. Attend meetings when you can. Volunteer often. Educate yourself on the issues and candidates, and please vote.

While I am leaving the Daily Citizen, this is not a final goodbye. I moved to Dodge County nearly 17 years ago, and consider it home. You may see me at a community event or on social media.

What kept me working at the Daily Citizen for more than 14 years was the people who allowed me to tell their stories. I consider it an honor and privilege, and appreciate the trust it takes to be willing to share one’s story. I hope I proved worthy of that trust.

I could fill an issue of the paper listing the names of those I wish to thank. I appreciate those who contacted me when they liked a story or column I wrote. Thank you for reaching out. Thank you for reading.

Thank you.