Anne Nagel is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, an intern at the press, and a collector of elephants.
What are you doing Thursday, May 29? I will be sitting in a shady garden courtyard attending a reading that I helped set up. As a student intern at the University of Nebraska Press, I had not expected that I would be pitching and executing my own ideas for a major project. Of course, I had hoped that I would be able to make a substantial contribution, preferably by using my writing skills, but I think I expected that I'd be doing more data entry and filing. I was pleasantly surprised when my supervisor gave me more of an opportunity to participate in the actual workings of Grants and Development.
When I was asked to brainstorm ideas for the Friends of the Press's involvement in Give to Lincoln Day (G2LD), I began the way I typically begin my graduate school projects—with research. Of course, starting with the basics, I learned that on G2LD, donations made to nonprofits are matched, in part, from a challenge fund and that one of these nonprofits, the Friends of the Press, helps UNP fund the publication of books.
I also discovered that on many of the nonprofits' fundraising webpages from last year's G2LD, the most engaging element was the video. What would showcase the vital work that the press does? Probably not a scene of a glasses-wearing editor quietly working at her desk or an image of a reader curled up with a good book in an overstuffed chair. And I doubted that a song-and-dance number or public flash mob would quite fit (although if any members of the staff are interested in choreographing one of these, I would love to see the footage).
After a casual brainstorming session with another supportive UNP colleague, Joel Puchalla, I had an epiphany. I suggested that we film Ted Kooser reading one of his poems and speaking about the press. I wasn't certain that we would be able to schedule a Pulitzer prize–winning former US Poet Laureate, even though he has published books with UNP and serves as a Friend of the Press. But we did! After a lot of emailing, schedule-coordinating, suggesting, and planning, I was able to see my idea take form, and it was thrilling. I got to be behind the scenes—watching the small team from UNL Broadcast Services execute their own version of feng shui-ing the room and maneuvering multiple cameras—although it was a bit nerve-wracking to be responsible for promptly flipping the cue cards.
Now I will have the opportunity to attend another author event that I pitched and helped coordinate. For the first time in the history of G2LD, the Lincoln Community Foundation is supplying their garden for nonprofits to host a day of events. So in addition to our video, we will also be able to host a live book reading by the award-winning author Joy Castro. She will be reading selections from the work she has published with UNP to help raise awareness for the Friends of the Press on G2LD.
I'm excited to work with yet another author whose works I admire, and I'm hoping that the day I've been preparing for is a success. At 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 29, I will be sitting in the Lincoln Community Foundation garden listening to Joy Castro (and possibly enjoying a snack from Colby Ridge, which is just across the street!), and I hope to see you there!