I grew up on a working farm in Southwestern Missouri. I studied at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, where I received my Bachelor of Arts in History, with a minor in music performance. Folklore studies is a natural outgrowth of my life and led me to the Folklife Studies Program at WKU.
I grew up influenced by music and history because my father ran a cowboy poetry gathering in Fort Scott, Kansas for twenty years, called Echoes of the Trail. I was small when the gathering got underway, but I remember attending almost every organizational meeting with him. His goal was to implement an inclusive community program that was open to the public. I soaked it all up.
I grew up in an artistic household and continue to work on my own projects, including photography and ceramics. I have also been playing traditional fiddle music since the age of eight and participated in Missouri’s Master and Apprentice program. Music has been a predominant part of my life from a young age, and played a large role in my decision to apply to and attend Western Kentucky University.
I first discovered the field of folklore by happening across the Western Kentucky University’s Folk Studies page when I was researching graduate schools after having realized that the school I had been accepted to would not be able to provide me with the experience that I wanted. Through the masters program at Western, I have been able to conduct more in-depth ethnographic projects, including interviews, fieldwork, and program planning in order to engage the immediate and wider communities in Bowling Green. I have also gained skills through working with my fellow cohorts, organizing, scheduling, and working together on several different projects including the annual Horse Cave Heritage Festival, Kentucky Crafted: the Market, and the annual Hammer-In Blacksmithing event.
I spent my time in Bowling Green as the Graduate Assistant for the Kentucky Folklife Program, under the direction of Brent Björkman, Virginia Siegel, and Joel Chapman. My duties during this time have encompassed a wide range of skills and abilities, including transcription, grant writing, making concert posters, processing of data and meta-data, writing blogs, writing newsletters, writing press releases, audio editing, setting up narrative stages, leading narrative stages, video production, organizing interviews, assisting with set-up for public events, among a variety of other skills and duties.
During the summer of 2019, I interned under the director of the Missouri Folk Arts Program, Lisa Higgins. My duties for Lisa included video transcription, researching festivals in Missouri, and writing blog posts to be included on the Missouri Folk Arts Program website.
In February of 2020 I, along with a colleague, applied for, and received, the Archie Green Fellowship through the American Folklife Center, housed in the Library of Congress. Our work focuses on Agricultural Pilots and the integral role that they play in the everyday practices of farming in the rural Midwest of the US. Our intent is to explore the working lives of these pilots and make it possible for people who are not Ag Pilots to gain a deeper understanding of the invaluable work that they do. Once complete, our work will be housed in the Library of Congress and available to anyone who would like to view it.
My own fieldwork and areas of experience include working with a team of masters students to craft a practice application for the National Registry of Historic Places, writing practice grants and grant drafts, and conducting research with a tattoo parlor in Bowling Green in order to research the art of the tattoo artists, the aesthetics of tattooing, and the significance of tattooing in today’s world.