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Omaha Magazine

School Newspapers, Geology Courses, and More: October Issue Promises to Educate

Oct 08, 2020 10:59AM ● By Daisy Hutzell Rodman
managing editor Daisy Hutzell-Rodman

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

We at Omaha Magazine promise that you will find something in this issue you will enjoy.

The University of Nebraska also made a promise this spring—that in-state students whose parents make less than $60,000 annually will be able to attend a UN college tuition-free. It’s called the Nebraska Promise program, an expansion of the previous College Possible program of which few took advantage. The details of the Nebraska Promise program and how it works is the subject of one of our features this month. 

Some of our readers likely have adult children or teenagers with internships that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and closures of education systems. This can also impact a graduating senior’s job search. According to information gleaned from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), approximately 30 out of every 100 students who got a job after graduation had an internship during college. With schools and internships shut down this spring, many students were affected. The story of what a few companies in this area did with their internships is the subject of another feature this month.

I come from a family of educators and those interested in education: my dad wanted to be a college professor before changing plans and becoming a clinical psychologist; my mom earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education before becoming a stay-at-home mother, and my sister is now earning a degree in education. I took a different route of educating the public through nonfiction writing as a journalist, but the October Education edition is still one of my favorite issues of the year.

As a writer, I admit to being a bit of a snob about pens and paper, they are, after all, the tools of my trade. Like many, I have fond memories of school-supply shopping. I smile when I see a metal Strawberry Shortcake or Care Bears lunch box in a thrift shop, and I love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils. Our 60-Plus Nostalgia article highlights some school supplies of yore that many readers who attended school in the 1960s and 1970s will appreciate.

LeAnne Bugay also learned at a young age to use her pen to educate others. This young woman, the subject of this month’s Gen O, was named Nebraska High School Press Association 2020 Student Journalist of the Year and was accepted to the Omaha Film Festival. 

Several months ago, when planning a different issue, we sought input from Bryan O’Malley, chef educator at Metropolitan Community College. In learning more about O’Malley, we realized he was worthy of a profile—the list of chefs in Omaha who have trained under O’Malley’s watchful eye is vast. 

The Big 10 is not playing football this year—a loss felt around the state by many Husker fans, among others. Those needing a Big Red fix might be interested in the dining feature this month. Former lineman Matt Vrzal has graduated from the field to the restaurant business. His current venue, Piezon’s Pizzeria, is a clever play on the Italian word for “friend” and a great spot for those in the Millard neighborhood near 156th Street and West Center Road to grab a slice of pizza and chat with friends and neighbors.

One reason I became a journalist is because it enables me to write about a wide range of interesting topics. That said, as a liberal arts student in college, I enjoyed taking several classes that had nothing to do with journalism. One of those courses was introduction to environmental geology, where I studied a variety of gems and rocks, and many fascinating facts, such as that the Loess Hills area in Southwest Iowa is one of two places on Earth where loess silt is up to 200 feet deep and creates an intricate terrain—the other is the Loess Plateau in Shaanxi, China. I remembered many geological facts this year while watching the miniseries Prehistoric Road Trip on PBS World, which included scenes from Western Nebraska.

Harmon Maher doesn’t need to watch television to learn about Nebraska’s physical makeup—he lives it. The UNO geology and geography professor studies the earth’s makeup here in Nebraska and in Norway, relying on helicopters and boats to get him to remote places with more animals than people.

October is one of my favorite months for several reasons. One of those reasons is Halloween. I enjoy dressing up, spending time with friends and family around a fire, and watching the young ones trick-or-treat. Halloween also evokes memories of my favorite apple of the year. One of our family friends owned an apple orchard, and they would hand out Red Delicious apples instead of candy. No matter how many apples I ate each year, that fresh-picked Halloween apple was my favorite, and always ended up in my lunch bag the next day.

The Omaha area offers several places where people can pick their own apples—from the popular Vala’s offering a variety of rides and attractions along with produce to Ditmar’s Orchard, which offers 20 different varieties, encouraging people to come pluck a peck all season long.

Happy October. I hope this issue inspires you to try a new food, explore a new hill, pick up a new book, or simply keep you entertained in lieu of football.

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This article was printed in the October 2020 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.