« Return to this article

Know the West

A fresh face and folks in the field

Fall brings a change in the weather, a new staffer and visitors.


As an editorial fellow now working remotely from Spokane, Washington, I’m looking out the window at another brilliant blue sky. But my computer reminds me that it’s different back in Colorado, where a healthy dose of October rain and snow has fallen in the high country. We’re so thankful for the much-needed precipitation, given the long drought gripping the Southwest, that we’re not even complaining about the wet, icy roads. Well, not yet.

The changing weather has blown a friendly new face to our Paonia headquarters. Development Associate Hannah Stevens comes to us after a career in biology and laboratory and data management at the New York Botanical Garden. She has produced research for a number of nonprofits, including the Western Slope Conservation Center, the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Hannah will be managing our monthly giving program and helping us prepare for our 50th anniversary in 2020. Welcome, Hannah!

Hannah Stevens, HCN’s new development associate, is a welcome addition to the Paonia office.
Luna Anna Archey/High Country News

We’ve been busy afield, too. Assistant Editor Anna V. Smith attended the 28th annual Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Flint, Michigan. Anna spoke on a panel on gender equality and the environment, where she described High Country News’ investigations into harassment in federal agencies, including the National Park Service, Forest Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Former HCN correspondent Elizabeth Shogren discussed science reporting under the Trump administration. And Anna met up with former HCNers — Editorial Fellow Lyndsey Gilpin and intern Gloria Dickie, both of whom are now SEJ board members. Assistant Editor Paige Blankenbuehler was a guest lecturer for a feature writing class at her alma mater, Fort Lewis College. She also visited The Indy, the campus newspaper where she got her start in journalism, and discussed career paths and the industry. Meanwhile, associate editors Maya L. Kapoor and Tristan Ahtone attended the Poynter Leadership Academy in Florida, where they honed their skills as news leaders.

Longtime subscribers and sustainers Ray and Donna Phillips stopped by Paonia and Gunnison to chat us up about all things Westy. They are recently retired and enjoyed pelting us with all kinds of story ideas. Donna called HCN “a lone voice in the wilderness,” and Ray is writing a dystopian sci-fi novel. We’re looking forward to reading it when it’s done.

We were saddened to hear that longtime HCN reader and supporter Jim Ratzlaff passed on in late August. A lawyer whose love of the natural world and fly fishing led him to retire with his wife, Jane, on the North Umpqua River in Roseburg, Oregon, Jim became deeply involved in restoring Oregon’s forests and finding common ground between environmentalists and loggers. His obituary in The Oregonian notes that Jim felt “an intense obligation to give back to the world that gave so much to him. … A hungry reader and lifelong learner, he was also a skilled pilot, and excellent winemaker, a fledgling truffle farmer and a grand fan of the cocktail hour.” A man who lived a rich, full life, he will be truly missed.