K-State OHREC is excited to highlight one of our hardworking committed members in every quarterly newsletter. 2017 Fall Newsletter "People at OHREC" features Editor/Writer, Mary Lou Peter. Mary Lou is from Shawnee, Kansas and has worked at K-State since 1999.
Before working at K-State, what was the most unusual or interesting job you held?
I spent 10 years in Chicago working for Reuters, an international news wire service, first as a reporter and later as an editor. It was fast-paced, interesting and just like my work at K-State, it allowed me to learn something new almost every day. I was a train commuter (from the western suburbs) to 311 S. Wacker, across the street from the Sears (now Willis) Tower. Prior to that I worked for a trade association in Oakland, Ca. and Knight-Ridder Financial News in Leawood, Ks.
How has K-State helped you in your career development?
The world of academia and extension are quite different than the news world I was used to. Working at K-State has often let me dig deeper into topics with researchers or specialists than I could as a mainstream media journalist.
What are three words you would describe working at K-State OHREC?
Friendly. Fun. Informative. Beautiful setting. (Okay, that’s five words!)
What do you like most or your favorite part about or working at K-State OHREC?
The people who work here now and previously, the students, and the Master Gardeners who volunteer here. It’s a welcoming atmosphere, plus I like driving to the country rather than driving into the city to go to work.
What do you find most challenging at K-State OHREC?
Our internet connectivity is ummmmm …. how can I say this diplomatically… not always reliable!
What has been your favorite project, job duty or proudest moment at K-State OHREC?
Though I don’t technically work for the Center or the Horticulture Department. I was fortunate that they had office space for me to relocate to the Kansas City area in 2009. My department home is the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education in Manhattan (where I was based for my first 10 years at K-State). I still do the same work I was doing in Manhattan, writing news releases and editing other writers’ articles about research and extension programs and projects going on all over the state. Sometimes I write about horticulture topics but also agronomy, agricultural economics, and others. Recently I wrote about OHREC’s collaboration with After the Harvest, through which more than 16,000 pounds of fresh produce was donated to help feed hungry people in the Kansas City area.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU:
Tell us a little about yourself and your family
I am one of five children and grew up in Wyandotte County. I have three children, all grown now and four grandchildren. My two sons and their families live out of state and my daughter and one grandson live here in the KC area.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
I used to have horses! Once a horse lover, always a horse lover but haven’t had one in a long time.
What kinds of hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?
Being out in nature is important, whether it’s planting flowers or a walk in my neighborhood or on one of the trails around KC. I have a great group of friends and family. A couple of them are musicians, so I’ve discovered some music venues and the fun of house concerts. I am not at all musically talented myself (my violin teacher in 5th grade would attest to that), but I know what I like!
Do you have a favorite line from a movie, motto or quote?
You can’t really move forward if you’re constantly looking back.
Where is the best place you traveled to and why?
I’ve had wonderful opportunities to travel to other countries and in the U.S. Some of the best: Montana, northern California and Oregon. For a city, Chicago is my favorite. A big, diverse city with a Midwestern feel/friendliness in a lot of ways. They’ve set aside green space (forest preserves) that anyone can enjoy. I was fortunate enough to travel to Russia in 2001. It was an amazing experience but I can’t say it was the best place to visit.
What is the weirdest thing you have eaten?
Beef tongue (but I didn’t know what it was at the time). My sister also tried to pass off rabbit as turkey one Thanksgiving. It had been her kids’ 4-H project!
How do you define success?
Doing what you do as well as you can. Being happy. Having balance.
What is the most important thing you have learned in the last five years?
Relationships with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues are by far the most important. Money is only important if you don’t have enough (got that one from my dad but it’s so true). Of course that “enough” part is different for everyone!
Return to 2017 Fall Newsletter