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Colorado Centennial Farms

Colorado is my first love. This state is not just the setting for my life story (thus far), it is a central character. It is the backdrop and a main tenet. I feel like I know Colorado like I would know a beloved relative, someone who shares my heritage and my blood. But I cannot even begin to claim to know this land like those who have spent their lives actively working it.

Two weeks ago I ventured into the eastern part of Colorado for a story with the Denver Post local section. My destination: A century-plus year old farm in Strasburg. An arm of the state had recognized this property as one of its Colorado Centennial Farms, not a small feat when the parameters of such an accomplishment are considered.

↣ The farm must be owned by the same family continuously for at least 100 years.

↣ The farm must still be a full-fledged working farm.

↣ The farm must be at least 160 acres in size.

There are nearly 500 farms that have been granted this title since the program began in 1986. Only six in Adams County, which is where I headed in mid-September to meet Ray “Stubby” Schmidt.

Schmidt Farm Colorado Centennial Farm

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face masks and crab claws || photojournalism

I slowly switched my cameras from one shoulder to the next and tried not to drop them as I donned a gown. Then I swirled my hair into a net and pulled cloth booties over my shoes. Finally, I secured a mask around my face, looping elastic around each ear. I was about to enter a sterile room where lab technicians prepared excess donor breast milk to benefit infants in need all over the world. (Click that link there to read the full article.) I was on assignment for the local section of the Denver Post. I would cover two more stories by day’s end. Not an uncommon day in the life of a newspaper photographer.

It’s been quite a while since I have shared a selection of recent photos that I’ve made while touring around the Denver metro area. As such, it seemed I was rather overdue on pulling together an edit from the past few months of editorial coverage. So here you are at long last. (OK, I just checked, and except for the 2014 Year in Review post I shared in December, I haven’t put together one of these edits in nearly a full year. Yikes!)

Mothers' Milk Bank

Sha Ronda Wilson, a lab technician, processes donor milk at Mothers’ Milk Bank on July 15, 2015, in Arvada, Colorado. Mothers’ Milk Bank, a nonprofit that collects and distributes excess donor milk, moved to Arvada in June. It has been in operation for 31 years and is aiming to provide 1 million ounces of donor milk by 2017. 

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in review || 2014 YourHub photos

We are nearly twenty days into the shiny new year of 2015. And here for you I present (finally), a little review of the photos I shot for YourHub in 2014. Better late than never. It’s a Monday, so let’s be glass-half-full kind of people and say, at least we haven’t greeted the month of February already! (Is anyone shocked by my tardiness on this cause though? It’s not like we haven’t seen this before.)

I was talking with a colleague last week about YourHub, and my position as a photographer who spends her days working on the hyper-local level of journalism. It isn’t always glamorous in the way I think some people envision this line of work must be, and the stories don’t always get the flashy attention treatment that we see pop up on all our varied social outlets day after day. But in all honesty,  that is what I love about my job. There is tremendous authenticity with the people I meet. They are eager to share their stories, to play a part, to make a difference, to live in these communities they cherish. And I cherish the small role I get to play in their lives.

***EVENT HEADLINE HERE***

Skyler Weekes founded Rocky Mountain Barrel Company in 2010.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is developing a 10-year operational master plan that aims to bring improved visibility and access to the refuge, located in Commerce City, Colorado.

The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory hosts a series of summer camps fro kids to learn about ecology in Brighton, Colorado.

Kim Taha opened Taha Suri Alpaca Ranch two years ago, and raises just over a dozen alpacas on her property in unincorporated Jefferson County, Colorado.

Aurora currently has 14 community gardens, and is working on developing eight more to open to the public. The city is also looking to obtain more land to develop into more community gardens in the future.

***EVENT HEADLINE HERE***

The Tales to Tails literacy program allows children to read to a certified therapy dog, helping reluctant readers gain more confidence at Anythink Wright Farms in Thornton, Colorado.

Maddie and Lakayla Vincent will participate in the Arapahoe County Fair, which starts on July 24.

***EVENT HEADLINE HERE***

***EVENT HEADLINE HERE***

To see a broader edit of photos both I and my partner, Seth McConnell, shot in 2014, visit our full “best of” gallery. Thanks, all.

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wedding dresses and the county fair || yourhub photojournalism

Summer in Colorado takes us outside quite a bit. You can’t ignore 300(-plus!) days of sunshine and not fully embrace it in the super-sunny summer. Also, summer is the season for county fairs. And as YourHub is the community/county department at the Denver Post, we can’t very well not go visit with some county-fair-bound animals and their handlers.

Because cows trying to be escape artists. And little baby goats getting their first baths. What more can you want in the summer?

It’s been a little (OK, long) while since I’ve pulled together a good sampling of what I’ve been shooting on the editorial side, so this crew of photos is pulled from the past month or so of assignments.

August is already threatening to wind down, school is kicking back into gear, we’re dreaming more and more of our autumn days and the cooler temperatures that accompany them. But it’s been a good season. Perhaps too much work and not enough play in our summer, but we’re heading to San Francisco — for a whole blessed week of vacation — next week. And that will be pretty darn divine.

Peyton Huss prepares for the Jefferson County Fair at Church Ranch on July 22 in Westminster, Colorado.

The Evergreen Parks and Recreation District offers junior mountain biking lessons for kids age 8-13 at Alderfer/Three Sisters Open Space Park in Evergreen, Colorado.

Austin Anguilm and Preston Anguilm, 15 and 10 respectively, started Fly Guy Brand in January 2012.

The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory hosts a series of summer camps fro kids to learn about ecology in Brighton, Colorado.

Kyle Walpole -- whose service dog, Matilda, assists him with his hearing impairment -- is attempting to educate the public about the rise in fake and non-certified service animals.

The Park People is leading a community-based effort to restore the Cranmer Park sundial and surrounding plaza, in Denver, Colorado.

Taylor Rae, 13, rehearses at Creekside Bible Church on July 30, for her performance at the Douglas County Fair, which will take place on Friday, August, 8.

The Wedding Seamstress, bridal alterations and wedding shop, located in Arvada, Colorado.

Alley Cat Beads in Northglenn, Colorado.

Children enjoy Art in the Park activities, an event which kicks off the 10-day Arts Alive festival, hosted in part by the Center for the Arts Evergreen.

Jabo's Bar-Be-Q in Greenwood Village, Colorado

Marjorie Anderson is an artist based in Lakewood, Colorado, who is part of the Metro State University Denver "Adopt an ARTrepreneur" program.

Maddie and Lakayla Vincent will participate in the Arapahoe County Fair, which starts on July 24.

High fives to the lot of you!  –a.e.

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Muriel and Jesse || photojournalism

Muriel Wright, 93, and her husband, Jesse, 94, pose for a portrait in their Littleton home on Feb. 12. Married on Aug. 2, 1940, the Wrights were recently recognized by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter organization as being the longest-married couple livinMuriel and Jesse Wright, 93 and 94 respectively at the time I shot this photo, pose for a portrait in their home in Littleton on February 12, 2014. Not long before taking this photo, the Wrights had been recognized by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter organization as being the longest-married couple living in Colorado. They were married on Aug. 2, 1940.

Their grandson, Jeff, nominated them for the “longest-married couple” award, and helped arrange a time for myself and Joe Vaccarelli, one of the YourHub reporters, to come interview and photograph them and learn about their lives together. They were lovely. When they first started dating, Jesse had one of Muriel’s friends run recon, and make sure she was interested in him. When she agreed to go on a date, he picked her up in his brother’s borrowed car and off they went to a basketball game. Said Muriel about the longevity of their relationship, “I don’t think there’s any secret…. We get along pretty good. We have our ups and downs, nothing is perfect, but we’ve never really had any problems that we couldn’t sit down and talk about.”

Nine days before their 74th anniversary — that is, this past Thursday, July 24 — Jesse passed away peacefully in his sleep.

This portrait isn’t the best photo ever to be made, but as I read an email from Jeff, who notified Joe (who forwarded the message on to me) of his grandfather’s passing, it reminded me of the great privilege we have as journalists. We are invited into the homes and lives of so many people. We are entrusted with their stories to share with the wider community. They give us their faith to be true to that story.

Sometimes I can take it for granted that each of the photos I make mean something to someone. Maybe they aren’t the grand stories of international import that flood our senses, but they are meaningful to the people involved. And I think the same can be said of all the small interactions each of us encounters every single day. From making a really fantastic cappuccino for a customer, to painting a mural on the side of a building, to singing an operatic tune that always makes my heart alightto writing a fine essay or organizing library books on a shelf so a child can find just the right tale to inspire their adventures. Each of these gestures are vital to another person, they impact someone else. They can make all the difference.

It was an honor to meet the Wrights. It’s an honor to do what I do. I hope you each feel the same about the service you bring to your own communities.

Rest in peace, Jesse.