The Chippewa Herald was recognized with two first place honors and four other awards Friday at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association’s annual awards ceremony in Madison.
The honors included a first place award for the best overall sports section for Sports editor Brandon Berg and writers Ben Peterson, Spencer Flaten and Travis Nyhus.
Winners announced Friday were:
The awards recognize the best in writing, reporting, photography, presentation and advertising for newspapers of all sizes across Wisconsin.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Hundreds of thousands of American schoolteachers work second jobs to boost their income. They speak of missing time with family, struggles to complete lesson plans and nagging doubts over whether it’s worth the sacrifices to stay in their profession.
Nationwide, 18 percent of teachers work jobs outside school, supplementing the average full-time teacher salary of $55,100 by an average of $5,100, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Education Department, from the 2015-16 school year. That is up slightly from 16 percent in 2011-12.
Teaching hardly is the only profession where people pick up second jobs to pay their bills, and many have the flexibility to do other work in the summer when school is out. But their numbers help explain the outrage behind the teacher revolts in states including West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky.
The Associated Press asked moonlighting teachers in four states to describe how they balance the extra hours with their day jobs and family responsibilities:
After a day of instructing first-graders at Oologah-Talala Public Schools in Oklahoma, Melinda Dale puts on a janitor’s uniform and begins cleaning the very same school building.
“I usually do it right after school,” Dale said, “because working with first grade all day, I tend to lose my energy pretty fast.”
Dale, who has taught for six years, earns $32,000 a year as a teacher. She spends about 15 hours a week on the janitorial work, which at $10 an hour allows her to earn nearly a quarter of what she makes teaching.
She is trying to save money for college for the oldest of her three children, a high school senior. Her youngest, a first-grader, has to wait for Dale to finish cleaning before she can go home, but sometimes other family members help with the cleaning so she can leave sooner and spend time with her kids.
Her second job forces her to do lesson plans on the weekend, usually on Sundays after church and lunch with her family.
One day, her seventh-grade daughter was waiting in the car for her mother and said: “I’m sorry it’s come to this, mom.”
“It was a very heartwarming but sad moment to hear her say those words,” Dale said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to be in the career that I’m in, but also provide for them.”
As Lyft driver Stefanie Lowe crisscrosses the metro Phoenix area in her Jeep, many of her passengers are surprised to learn that she also is a full-time teacher.
“It’s super busy to drive during the week, but sometimes I just have to do it,” said Lowe, 28.
She earns just under $37,000 as a first-grade teacher at Tuscano Elementary School. She rents a room, instead of having her own apartment, to keep her housing costs down, but to make ends meet she drives for Lyft on nights and weekends and also picks up tutoring jobs. She drives more during the week when she has upcoming expenses like a car registration payment, medical bills or supplies for her classroom.
By 7 a.m. the next school day, she’s back at her classroom. With 32 students, the class demands her full attention. But Lowe is committed to improving her students’ lives.
“These kids are going to be taking care of you when you’re older,” she said. “Let’s educate them; let’s make them the best people that they can be.”
Lowe left a job in health care in Pennsylvania to teach in Arizona, where the signing bonus from her first job at a low-income Tucson-area school went entirely toward materials for her classroom. At times, she has considered pursuing a different career, but for now she is dedicated to teaching.
“I went to school for this to be my career,” Lowe said, “not so I could work three jobs just to be able to afford to go the doctor.”
John Andros knows the drill well after more than a decade of double duty teaching high school and then working at Dick’s Sporting Goods. He packs lunch and dinner, puts an extra set of clothes in the car for his retail job, and sets off knowing he won’t be home before his daughters go to bed.
There was a time earlier in his career, when he was making less than $40,000 teaching, when he considered giving it up to pursue a management job at Dick’s that would pay over $50,000.
Now in his 19th year of teaching, with two master’s degrees, he has reached top scale — $88,000 annually — as a special education teacher at Plainville High School in Connecticut. But he still works 15 hours a week at Dick’s and tutors because he feels like he’s still catching up financially after years of much lower earnings in an area with high property taxes and a high cost of living.
He paid off his college loans three years ago, and he and his wife only recently got out from a requirement to pay mortgage insurance because they didn’t have enough for a full down payment when they bought their house.
“I became a teacher because I figured I’d get home and get my kids off the bus and do all these things. I never thought in a million years I would still be working so much. This was supposed to be a two, maybe three-year thing. Financially it never worked out,” said Andros, whose wife works part-time as a health aide.
He makes a point to stay home with his daughters at least two weeknights, but as he looks to build up college savings for them, he frets over the volleyball and field hockey events he misses.
Despite more than three decades of teaching experience, Christi Phillips keeps up her longtime second career as a children’s photographer. She enjoys working both jobs, but she feels like she doesn’t really have a choice.
“Thirty-two years, I have to have a second job,” said Phillips, who teaches first grade at George Ward Elementary School in Mill Creek, West Virginia. “Isn’t that sad? That’s very sad. Everybody I know has two or three.”
Phillips makes $52,000 teaching. That’s enough, she says, for her utilities and a car payment. The money from the second job is needed if she and her husband want to eat out at a nice restaurant, buy a second a vehicle or take a vacation.
“I can scrape by. I can make due on my salary if I just want to pay bills. That’s it,” Phillips said. “If I want to live, if I want to do any real living, I can’t do it on my salary.”
Wisconsin farmers stressed by stagnant dairy and grain markets are showing strong interest in growing industrial hemp this year, but a state agricultural official is warning them not to count on the niche crop to solve their financial problems.
“I’d say interest from farmers is almost extreme,” said Brian Kuhn, who heads the plant industry bureau of the state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
“The calls we take every day about hemp are very high, and our website hits blows away numbers for almost anything we’ve put on our website in some time,” he said. “We’re getting distinctly higher numbers (for hemp) than what we’re used to, which is a good thing.”
But while the niche crop has the potential to create more income than corn or soybeans, Kuhn said farmers will get burned if they don’t follow rules for selling hemp that are different from rules for selling corn, soybeans and other mainstream crops.
“I’m telling farmers to be very cautious,” Kuhn said. “I don’t look at this as the savior for the farm economy. The farmer who’s on the edge shouldn’t be rushing out there to put 500 acres into hemp. While it’s got great potential and great promise, it could also cause great harm if they haven’t worked through the details of the market side.”
State lawmakers approved a plan in November that allows farmers to grow industrial hemp as a research pilot program, permitted by the 2014 Farm Bill. Thirty other states have started similar programs with industrial hemp — a nonpsychoactive cousin of the cannabis plant that produces marijuana. Its uses include many high-tech, health, manufacturing and food applications, many of which are largely untapped.
The crop, which once thrived in Kentucky, was historically used for rope, clothing and mulch from the fiber, hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds, and soap and lotions. Other uses include building materials, animal bedding and biofuels.
More than 50 producers have already sent in applications to obtain one-time licenses to grow industrial hemp since DATCP opened the nearly two-month application period in early March, Kuhn said.
“I’d say that is on the high end for what other states have seen in their first year,” he said, adding that Minnesota had about 30. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we had upwards to 100 applications by the time it’s all said and done.”
Some of the farmers who get licenses aren’t planning to grow hemp this year, Kuhn said. That’s not unusual. Kentucky has 150 licensed growers and 12,000 acres of licensed acreage for hemp, but about 100 farmers are currently growing it on about 4,000 acres.
“People are licensing for the max and then, based on reality and markets and all the other details that have to come together, what gets planted is much lower than what is licensed to be grown,” he said.
The biggest factor for farmers is finding a buyer for their crop before they plant the seeds, Kuhn said. That is a different process for state farmers, who often sell their corn or soybeans after harvest.
Ken Anderson, the owner of seed company Legacy Hemp, cautioned farmers to also be on the lookout for scam artists: phony buyers who are promising a big payday at the end of the season.
“But at the end of the day, if that person the farmer talked to doesn’t have the money to pay for it, the person who will be hurt is the farmer,” he said. “I’d rather make three cents a bushel on corn than nothing a bushel on hemp.”
Anderson is building the state’s first hemp grain processor in Prescott and has contracts with 18 organic farmers to grow hemp on 1,800 acres this year. He expects to contract with more farmers over the next few weeks because more receiving centers are opening their doors to hemp farmers in western Wisconsin.
Besides processors, the state’s hemp industry also needs more receiving centers where farmers can have their hemp grain cleaned, conditioned and stored, according to Anderson.
“The grain doesn’t do very well as soon as you take it off of the plant,” he said. “Farmers can lose an entire crop if they don’t have a post-harvest plan in place and get it cleaned and conditioned quickly after harvest.”
Many of the farmers already under contract are in the organic-rich Viroqua and Eau Claire areas, but Anderson has growers signed up from around the state. While a few are growing hemp on 300 acres or more, most will grow on about 40 acres, he said.
Anderson also said he’s contracting with only organic farmers because conventional grain is stockpiled in Canada and prices have dropped. “The way to make farmers profitable right now is through organic, but I think that the market shift will be to conventional grain also,” Anderson said.
Companies working with organic and conventional hemp are showing interest in building processors and other businesses in Wisconsin, but most are taking a wait-and-see attitude, Kuhn said.
Anderson doesn’t mind paving the way for future niche buyers of Wisconsin hemp grain and stalks. An international cardboard maker who uses hemp for his products is looking to build a stalk processor in the United States, and Anderson is looking to bring him to Prescott. That would give hemp farmers the opportunity to make dual sales every harvest.
“His input costs will go down if he builds it here instead of California, and we also have some good connections with building supply companies in Wisconsin that would love to spearhead it for him,” Anderson said.
Anderson is waiting for the day when the consumer and business interest in hemp matches the farmers’ interest in growing it.
“The more companies put hemp into their product lines, the more contracting we can do,” he said. “In Wisconsin, we’re starting to see more of these companies who are interested in putting hemp into their product lines. So, that’s exciting for us.”