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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

Hey look, a (black) squirrel

Black squirrel

Black squirrels were introduced to the Kent State campus in the early 1960s and are a common sight on the university grounds.

There has been so much information to consume during this workshop. From one speaker to the next, I’ve learned many new skills and ways to refine skills I already have.

But have you seen the black squirrels? Those little suckers are everywhere, and before I stepped foot in my first session, they captured my heart.

But I digress …

Back to that first day. Sue Zake started us off with some alternative storytelling options. Scott Bogoniewski gave us things to think about with 360 video. We even got to try them out, with limited success.

Did you know black squirrels were introduced on the Kent State campus in the early 1960s and now are an unofficial mascot of the university …

On Tuesday, we started our day with Tasha Stewart and Kevin Necessary talking about social media. They were super engaging (get it?).

I loved Mike Reilley’s presentation Tuesday afternoon on all things Google. I could’ve sat through hours more with him.

Don’t get me wrong. Normally, I hate squirrels. They’re a nuisance around my house. They wake me up walking on the roof. They eat the shingles and chew on the siding.

But these black squirrels? They are mesmerizing … 

On Wednesday, Mandy Jenkins gave us so many tools to use to verify information. And Amanda Rabinowitz led a terrific session on podcasting. She was a superstar. 

I’d never seen a black squirrel before Monday. Turns out, they exist in many parts of the United States and Canada. But they are a big deal in Kent. They are everywhere on campus, and it turns out that they are the descendants of 10 black squirrels brought in from Canada in the 1960s. They’re so big at Kent State, the university has an annual Black Squirrel Festival every September.  More than 3,000 people attend. And the university radio state is called Black Squirrel Radio ,,,

We have more amazing presentations ahead on Thursday and Friday, before we all head back home Saturday. Some dedicated journalism advisers from coast to coast are here this week. It’s been fun to learn with them and from them.

Black squirrels are just gray squirrels with black coats, according to multiple internet sources. The black color phase of a gray squirrel is the result of two recessive genes coming together. If a dominant gene gray squirrel mates with a recessive gene black squirrel, the offspring will be gray. It takes two recessive genes to create a black squirrel. Two black squirrels will always produce black offspring …

It’s always fun to me to discover the things you can learn when you look around, even at my advanced age. I guess that’s why I love journalism so much.

And black squirrels.


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  1. It’s interesting to see who our individual personalities/styles come out in the voices of the blog. Great approach with the pull-out quotes!

  2. This is my favorite blog post of all time. So glad I’ve had the privilege of meeting everyone and learning from them this week!

  3. I love your approach on the assignment! Thanks for providing a great recap of all we’ve covered, and some fun facts too!

  4. Did the black squirrel decline comment? 🙂