One of this job’s most memorable moments happened early on. A month in, I left a board meeting and stopped in awe. From the town hall, I could see the most deep red sunset I’d encountered. Standing in the parking lot, looking over miles of frozen fields, I felt like I was home.

I started as managing editor here in the fall of 2016, after working two years at the local paper in Sun Prairie. Even that community was a culture shock for this city girl, who grew up in Minneapolis and then headed straight to UW-Madison. In Sun Prairie, I began to see the beginnings of a whole new world — one with hunting, rural roads and learning to leave 15 minutes early in case I encountered tractors on the one-lane roads.

I’ve spent my time here awestruck at Gibraltar views, eagles diving into Lake Wisconsin, MacKenzie trails and drives through the dense forests.

But the natural world aside, the people who live here are what won me over. In Poynette, Lodi, Dekorra, Arlington and beyond, I’ve been touched every day by the passion here. It’s ranged from our “regulars” who stop by the office as they run errands, to officials who devote weeknights to wrestle with the minutia of ordinances. I still think about the conversations I’ve had with people here, ranging from underappreciated farmers to volunteers who form the lattice of their hometowns.

In my time here, I’ve learned what it means to love your community. And I’ve seen firsthand that there are almost limitless ways to be part of making it better. These encounters have played a major role in inspiring me to start a nursing assistant program, beginning next week. I hope to eventually continue on to be a registered nurse.

In these past few months, I’ve been overwhelmed by how lucky I am to have had this time here. These experiences will stay with me as I begin this new journey.

All I can say is thank you, to everyone who has trusted me with their time, stories and frustrations — everyone who helped welcome me into their world.

I hope our paths will cross in the future.

Until we meet again.

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