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I am not one of those people that had my entire life planned out, step-by-step. I wasn’t someone that had a dream college or career, although I somehow landed the dream career. 

Originally from Chicago, I moved to Minnesota to finish my journalism degree after starting it at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for two years. “Why Nebraska?” is the common question I get, and the answer is that my sister went there. That is typically followed up by “Why Minnesota?” Again, the answer is my other sister lives up here. 

To put it simply, I was unsure of my future and moved toward comfort. However, unlike my sisters, I didn’t want to work a basic 9-to-5 corporate job. I can’t remember how I chose journalism, but I think I realized I enjoy writing and that it can be a career. 

Throughout my senior year at the U, I had two internships with media companies and wrote for their magazine publications, including Minnesota Monthly which focused on life and entertainment in the Twin Cities. 

My internships only solidified that writing and talking with people to tell their stories is something I am passionate about. One of my favorite articles is about a Roseville woman making maple syrup in her backyard. I interviewed, photographed and helped her for the last syrup boil of the season. Prior to this, I knew nothing about the process to make maple syrup. However, she was an interesting person who was more than willing to share her story and the process with me. 

The interviewing and reporting process is my favorite part of the job. I love learning something new and the ability to share that knowledge and story with others, hoping they learn something too. 

When I graduated, the post-grad anxiety hit me when everyone I knew was getting offered jobs. I am already feeling luckier than them all, because this is an amazing job position as the community editor with the Forest Lake Times. I can say I am excited to come into work every day, even though I have only been here a few days. 

As the community editor, I will be covering school board meetings, community and student news, along with the alternating history and arts and entertainment sections. The editor, Hannah Davis, has briefed me on how important history is to the community. I am more than eager to learn from everyone about the rich history of Forest Lake and the surrounding areas. I love the opportunity that journalism offers me to learn something new every day. 

Already, I enjoyed going through the archived Forest Lake newspapers and reading about local events from 10, 20 and 50 years ago. I was never much of a history fan in school when we learned about far places from centuries ago, but the archives are a unique chance to understand and learn about how Forest Lake came to be what it is today. 

Since I was offered this job opportunity, it has been difficult for me to put my excitement into words. I may not be from around here, but I understand the importance of local news and being informed about what is going on in the community. This past year further proved the importance of knowing what is locally happening. I hope I can continue to provide that service to the community to the best of my writing abilities as I cover topics that will affect some people in the area. 

My hometown neighborhood of Edison Park in Chicago functions as a small town. Everyone knows everyone and we look out for one another. I’m excited to immerse myself in Forest Lake to hopefully find a piece of home away from home. 

On top of writing for the newspaper, I will be taking photos around the community. Hannah keeps telling me to “drive around.” The first few times she said that I thought, “She can’t actually mean just drive around, right?” 

The answer: yes. If you see me around town, I’ll probably be walking with a camera bag looking for some local tidbits to feature in the paper. Photography is something on which I want to improve; I took a photojournalism class, during the pandemic, so there were not many events taking place to photograph for the class. As we return back to a new normal, I am excited to keep taking photographs and capturing moments worth remembering. 

If you see me seeming a bit lost in the area, directions or some tips on places to go will always be appreciated and welcomed. Even if I do not look lost and you recognize me, introduce yourself. I love getting to know people and hope to meet people in the community. 

And f you don’t see me around town, well, just know I am excited to be working in the Forest Lake area.


Natalie Ryder is the new Community Editor at the Forest Lake Times.

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