Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 8

Threads in the Tapestry
Heather Berry wraps up more than three decades with Rural Missouri
by Heather Berry | hberry@ruralmissouri.coop
I
will never forget my first day on the job with the magazine.
It was the spring of 1989 and the then threeperson
staff of Rural Missouri was nowhere to be found.
Editor Jim McCarty showed me to my desk and then
said, " We'll be downstairs if you need anything. "
Eventually, I found my way downstairs to a room filled
with long tables covered with photos. Jim, along with
Rural Missouri editors Jeff Joiner and Bob McEowen, were
helping a few editorial colleagues from other states judge
photography entries for a group called the
Cooperative Communicators Association.
That's also the day I became fast
friends with one of the judges, a young
lady named Sandi Wiseman. In her sweet
southern drawl she began chatting with
me, sharing with me her job and duties
with the Tennessee co-op magazine where
she worked as an editor. It was clear she
loved her job - and by the end of the day,
I knew I wanted to offer more than just
speedy typing skills as an editorial assistant
to the Rural Missouri staff. I wanted
to be a writer and share other people's
stories with readers, too.
A few weeks into my job, I learned our
magazine staff was quite unique in the fact
the editors not only went out to interview
their story subjects, but they each shot
their own photos, wrote the stories and
laid out the pages for the final version.
One morning, I went to Jim and shared
so I created Buddy Bear, our Just4Kids page mascot.
Buddy Bear soon grew in popularity, and with the creative
partnership and lifelong friendship with artist Brian Rice,
became an award-winning outreach program all its own.
Getting the opportunity to travel around our state during
my career has given me more than the chance to tell people's
stories - it's allowed me to broaden my horizons and learn
about the people, places and things that make Missouri the
great Show-Me State as we're known. I've shared hundreds
of stories about survival and resiliency. About freedom
which comes after dark times. About growing and becoming.
About success and happiness. About people
helping others grow on so many levels. And
each story, no matter the topic, reminds me
how strong we all are, no matter the path
we're on.
After a great deal of thought, I've decided
it's time to retire and move on to other
creative projects. Reflecting on a decadeslong
career has been daunting. When I
look back, the list of people who have now
become lifelong friends is long. The memories
come flooding back, making me tear
up. And I don't dare begin mentioning
people for fear of forgetting someone, so I
won't. If our paths have crossed and I got
to hear your story, you're special, because
I was blessed to share a little bit of your
story with our readers.
my interest in starting to write for the
magazine. The first assignment he gave
me was to fill a page called Rural Living,
which eventually evolved into the popular recipe section -
pages I've filled for nearly 34 years.
Soon I began shooting photos and learning from my
fellow editors what being a photojournalist entailed. Jim,
Jeff and Bob patiently (I think?) taught me not only how
to develop film in the darkroom but to learn how to see a
story as I was shooting photos. I wasted a lot of film in the
beginning, but they also let me keep trying. And that's the
beginning of what has culminated as a long and fruitful
career with the award-winning Rural Missouri magazine,
the official publication of Missouri's electric cooperatives.
From the first Rural Living page, I became known as
the magazine's Martha Stewart of sorts, filling the section
with recipes, anecdotal stories and more. Eventually, I
branched out and began writing profiles and longer stories
for the magazine. By 1992, the staff decided we needed
something to draw younger readers into the magazine,
8 RURAL MISSOURI | DECEMBER 2022
photo by Angie Jones-Wheeler
Associate editor Heather Berry
Besides my loving husband, Rick,
and a family who has been my constant
cheerleading team throughout my career
with Rural Missouri, I would be remiss if
I didn't thank the magazine family I've
spent more hours with at work than I've
been home. To the only editor I've had
for my entire career, Jim, thank you for taking a chance
on someone who said she enjoyed writing and wanted to
try. To former editors, Jeff and Bob, thank you for your
patience and for generously sharing your knowledge, as
well as forcing me to try and try again until I got it right.
To my current fellow editors, Zach Smith and Paul Newton,
thank you for continuing to lead Rural Missouri into the
future through the stories you share with our readers.
To my fellow ladies on staff - Mary Davis, Angie JonesWheeler
and Megan Backes - thank you, too, for your
support. I believe together we accomplish great things each
month and it's been a privilege to be part of a team which
feels like family.
So what does the future hold? I pray new avenues to
share my talents and more chances to grow. But I'm grateful
to you readers for allowing me to come into your home,
if only on these pages, every month - my heartfelt thanks.

Rural Missouri - December 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - December 2022

Contents
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - Contents
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 4
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 5
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 6
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 7
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 8
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 9
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 10
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 11
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 12
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - 13
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Rural Missouri - December 2022 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - December 2022 - Cover4
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