Nearly 14 years ago, I decided to make a career change. I switched from being an elementary school teacher, which I had done for 16 years, to being a journalist and working at The Herald-Tribune, Batesville, and most recently at the Daily News, Greensburg, when the Batesville, Greensburg and Rushville papers merged.

Over the years, I have had opportunities to cover all kinds of events, from meetings, trials, elections, 4-H fairs and queen pageants, graduations and festivals. I have also written feature articles highlighting community members. The latter were always my favorite, and I have met many amazing individuals. What I enjoyed the most was talking to ordinary people and hearing their stories.

I have interviewed individuals of all ages about the struggles they have gone through, what they are passionate about and how they made their dreams come true.

I learned more about farmers of all kinds, those who plant and harvest crops, such as corn, beans, wheat and popcorn, and those who raise hogs, cattle, horses and even alpacas.

I gained knowledge about what funeral home directors, judges, law enforcement officers, city employees and others do to serve their communities. I’ve talked with American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Patriot Guard members about their dedication to remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, as well as honoring veterans and those currently serving in the military.

I have always been impressed with the youth in our community. From St. Louis School, Batesville Community School Corp. and Oldenburg Academy students discussing what they are passionate about to Mayor’s Youth Council and Ripley Youth Outreach members doing projects to enrich their communities, they lead by example.

People have often asked me what my favorite stories were. Three come to mind.

In 2008, I interviewed Alex Gilland, who was blind. At the time, he was 18, and attended the Indiana School for the Blind. He gave me a tour of his family’s Osgood farm. As I talked with him, I was very impressed with the young man and all that he had accomplished. At school, he was involved in many activities, including track, swimming and Student Council. He truly enjoyed life and didn’t let his blindness stop him from achieving his goals. He had a basketball court in the barn, and when he invited me to take some shots, he made more baskets than I did.

In 2007, Jonathan Foust, a Franklin County High School teacher, received a Lilly Endowment Teacher Renewal/Enrichment grant, which he used to go back in time to 1808. He and his family spent the summer in a hunting cabin in Brookville living life like frontier families did in the early 1800s. When I met him on the road below, he said we would be walking for awhile, and he wasn’t kidding!

I followed him and his young boys through a cow pasture, over a small creek and through the woods along a jagged path for nearly a mile up the side of a hill, which seemed more like a mountain. It was very hot that day, and I thought I was going to die! However, once arriving at the cabin, they showed me how they made their food and survived in the wilderness. Of course, they said there were big spiders around, and anyone who knows me well soon realizes I am dreadfully afraid of those eight-legged creatures. So, needless to say, I kept my eyes open for any wandering arachnids.

I was also very intrigued when I talked to Batesville resident Joe Greiwe about his impressive wrench collection. He not only collects the tools, but also researches the history behind many of them. Over the years, I have interviewed him other times, too, and always enjoyed talking with him.

Now, as I move on to my next adventure at the Southeastern Indiana YMCA, I want to thank all of you – family, friends, community members and co-workers – for enriching my life and helping me create wonderful memories.