Moving on to the Far Side of the Barn

Dan Gogerty has worked at CAST from 2010 until now, when he realized it was time for him to officially retire. If anyone could receive a Ph.D. in Friday Notes, it would be Dan as he has created more than 560 editions of the weekly newsletter. All of the naked mole rat articles that Dan found over the years deserve an honorable mention. Below is an excerpt from his blog that you can read on our website. We are going to miss seeing him in the office everyday and hearing his witty humor, but are hoping he’ll stop in occasionally to visit.

After teaching for thirty-six years at seven schools in Japan, Australia, and Iowa, I signed on with an organization that has a reputation for doing what I was trying to teach: communicating effectively and clearly. With CAST’s content focused on science and agriculture, the move gave me opportunities to explore modern changes in food production as well as pull from my experiences of growing up on a traditional Midwest family farm—complete with grazing cattle, a classic red barn, and a host of siblings and cousins who grew up thinking everyone played in creeks, built tree houses in the grove, and mucked out the hog house every Saturday morning.

My duties at CAST included blog entries, news releases, conference participation, and various proofreading duties—with a major focus on the weekly newsletter. When I began working on Friday Notes in 2010, the overall mission was clear: focus on science, agriculture, and communication. Certain premises were understood: “Make sure it’s proofread carefully and sent out on time.” Computer issues popped up occasionally, and I feared we might end up with a “Saturday Notes” version, but during the ensuing years, we sent out more than 560 editions on the correct day to members, educators, and students.

Covering a broad range of topics, the newsletter includes many links to science, ag, and special interest stories. Key features include CAST publications, presentations, awards, and meetings. Odd or viral links show up in the “Far Side of the Barn” section. Apparently the naked mole rat is not just a cute, scientific wonder—it is also popular.  

During recent years, we’ve tried to cut wording, sharpen formatting, and increase the number of visuals. Infographics can illustrate a scientific concept; photos of members help explain their input and ideas; and a state fair collage can take us to the show ring, the horse barn, or the fried-butter-on-stick stand.

Members receive the newsletter, but ideally it is a two-way street. Topics and links come from societies, companies, organizations, individual members, and—due to CAST’s Education Program—many vibrant universities and secondary schools.  

CAST leadership has been instrumental in shaping the newsletter, and in “modern times,” John Bonner, Linda Chimenti, and now Kent Schescke have provided direction and insights. Many CAST staff members have chipped in at times, including some talented interns from Iowa State University. Various editors have also worked to cut typos, grammar errors, and confused wording. Carol Gostele and now Colleen Hamilton have kept us from full membership in the Blooper Hall of Shame.

Nearly two years ago, Dylana Luett (Communications and Social Media Specialist) came to CAST after graduating from Iowa State University, and along with other duties, she has put her stamp on Friday Notes. She will direct the newsletter with new CAST staff member Nick Plaugher (Communications Project Coordinator) lending a hand. Working on ag and science issues is rewarding because of the people involved—food producers, ag journalists, CAST members, and especially CAST staffers. I’ll be leaving behind a small office in west Ames that is a beehive of friendly, dedicated workers who know how to make the job fun. It’s been a buzz well worth the efforts.

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