Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

Happy holidays from the IJNR crew! As 2011 winds down, we're reflecting on all the great things that have happened here at IJNR in the past 12 months:

Through our mentoring program, we helped dozens of journalists brainstorm, perfect interviewing techniques, shape stories, and contemplate career moves.

We ramped up our presence on social media (as you can see in our sidebar, you can find us on both facebook and Twitter - and now this blog! Please follow us as we continue to increase our presence in cyber-world.)

And, last but certainly not least, we conducted four fantastic Institutes: Great Waters, Puget Sound, Asian Carp, and Energy Country. We had the honor of getting to know over 50 journalists as Fellows, and working with nearly 170 expert speakers over the course of the four Institutes. Our Fellows met shellfish farmers, cattle ranchers, NOAA scientists, wildlife biologists, berry farmers, concerned homeowners, tribal members, energy engineers, economists, journalists, even chefs who cook invasive species.

They got nose-to-nose with carp, cows, cormorants, octopi, otters, oysters, starfish, scallops, and ranch dogs. They encountered blizzards and rainstorms, beautiful sun, blustery winds, in the desert, on the coast, on mudflats, on islands, afloat in boats, aboard the fabled IJNR bus, and, most importantly, on foot.

I say "most importantly," because it's true: IJNR's mission is to give journalists a chance to get out of the newsroom and set foot on the ground they write about. They get their hands dirty, see, taste, and touch the stories that they cover, and look their sources in the eye - while standing the middle of a large-scale agriculture operation, or aboard an oyster boat, or in an old-growth stand of Douglas fir, or deep within a thrumming hydroelectric dam.

So, here's to you, from all of us at IJNR: May your New Year be happy, healthy, and productive - and may you always have opportunities that get your feet wet, your hands muddy, and your eyes open wide!