Depth Reporting program selects students from across campus to examine climate change

Depth Reporting program selects students from across campus to examine climate change

Friday, November 15, 2019 - 2:45pm

Twenty students from across the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have been selected to participate in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications Depth Reporting program in spring 2020.

The Depth Reporting Program will launch a year-long project in January, Climate Change: What Could It Mean for Nebraska, in partnership with Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Community Foundation.

“Look at Nebraska in last spring’s rear-view mirror and you will see a stark, haunting picture of communities devastated, livestock killed, farmland damaged and infrastructure destroyed.” said Joe Starita, Depth Reporting program director. “The 2020 depth reporting project will engage students from various majors, as well as Nebraska community partners, to drill deep into the impact – economically, socially, culturally and politically – of climate change in Nebraska and the millions of people we help feed across the globe.”

Spring 2020 participants will include students with passion and drive for both journalism and environmental issues. The interdisciplinary team will travel, research, report and produce multimedia content for a website that can serve as a resource to inform the Nebraska public about climate change issues. They will also organize six townhall discussions focused on climate change throughout the state.

Students will be taught and mentored by outstanding faculty and media professionals, including: Joe Starita, Lawrence and Ruth E. Pike Professor of Journalism and project director; Jenn Sheppard, assistant professor of practice and co-project director, and Lauryn Higgins, project manager.

The project will continue in fall 2020, with additional students selected to participate. The fall project will focus on examining climate change solutions.

Spring 2020 participants:

  • Mia Azizah, journalism and advertising and public relations; Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Luke Andersen, environmental studies and psychology; Omaha, Nebraska
  • Lauren Dietrich, advertising and public relations; Omaha, Nebraska
  • Tessa Faust, classics and religious studies; Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Aila Ganic, political science ; Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Jennifer Gilbert, environmental studies; Omaha, Nebraska
  • Grace Gorenflo, journalism; Shawnee, Kansas
  • Aaron Housenga, broadcasting and sports media and communication; Geneva, Illinois
  • Lindsay Johnson, earth and atmospheric sciences; Aurora, Colorado
  • Maya Kaechele, environmental studies; Omaha, Nebraska
  • Sierra Karst, journalism and broadcasting; Omaha, Nebraska
  • Carlee Koehler, fisheries & wildlife conservation biology and journalism; Firth, Nebraska
  • Celeste Kenworthy, geology; Bellevue, Nebraska
  • Nora Lucas, applied climate science; Kansas City, Kansas
  • Brittni McGuire, fisheries and wildlife; Omaha, Nebraska 
  • Libert Niyonkuru, integrated science; Kigali, Rwanda
  • Libby Seline, journalism; Omaha, Nebraska
  • Sophia Svanda, agriculture and environmental sciences; Nehawka, Nebraska
  • Kayla Vandracek, environmental studies; Salem, South Dakota
  • Kat Woerner, environmental studies, economics and natural resources and environmental economics; Bellevue, Nebraska

The College of Journalism and Mass Communications Depth Reporting program is led by award-winning professor and author Joe Starita. The program focuses on producing professional-quality depth reports on topics of social importance.

“The Depth Reporting program is one of our college’s signature programs providing students with the opportunity to make an impact through real-world work,” said Amy Struthers, interim dean of the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. “This project will provide students from various disciplines the chance to influence our understanding of the challenges and solutions to one of the defining issues of our time.”

Previous projects include Wounds of Whiteclay, the 2017 winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Grand Prize that explored the devastating effects of alcohol sales in Whiteclay, Nebraska, to residents of the nearby Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Learn more about the project at

Climate Change Nebraska
Climate Change Nebraska