Potter shares writing and photography talents, wins NFPW sweepstakes honor for third time


Mary Pat Finn-Hoag takes a picture of Lori Potter and Potter’s NFPW contest sweepstakes award at the NFPW conference in South Carolina.

Lori Potter is a talented writer and photographer who has captured sweepstakes honors three times in the NFPW Communications Contest including 2014 in South Carolina. She is the immediate past president of NFPW and now leads the NFPW Education Fund. She spends countless hours supporting NFPW. This spring I was able to spend time with her in her hometown of Kearney, Nebraska, visiting the newspaper where Lori and fellow NFPW member Mary Jane Skala work. One of the best parts of being an NFPW member is the friendships we form all over the country. Meet my friend, Lori Potter.

Name: Lori Potter

City and State: Kearney, Neb.

Affiliate and any leadership positions:

I’m currently the Nebraska Press Women legislative/First Amendment director and serve on the finance committee, but I’m the only candidate for treasurer in our Oct. 4 fall convention election. That will be my third term. I’ve also served two terms as president in the early 1990s and have been contest director numerous times, COA director, conference co-host several times, planned the 2011 NFPW Conference pre-tour, and helped judge state high school contests and select scholarship winners.

NFPW: I’m NFPW’s immediate past president and Education Fund director, having come up the ranks from second vice-president. In past years, I also chaired or served on several contest review committees, was an Education Fund board member and was a president’s adviser a time or two.

Years a member of NFPW:

I received my 35-year-certificate the 2014 NFPW Conference in Greenville, S.C. I joined in the fall of 1978, but was credited for those few months as part of my membership starting in January 1979. I don’t think I’ve ever missed an NPW convention and I’ve attended 25 NFPW conferences, starting with the 50th anniversary celebration in Williamsburg, Va., in 1987. Since then, I missed only 1988 and 2001, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks grounded flights for several days.

Tell us a little about you.

I grew up on a Franklin County farm in south-central Nebraska, 11 miles south of Wilcox, population 350. I graduated from Wilcox High School in 1974 in a class of 17, including my fraternal twin sister, Lisa, and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Kearney State College in December 1977.

My higher education has come on the job, at NPW and NFPW conferences, and as a member of the 2000-2002 LEAD XX class. LEAD is a two year leadership and learning program for Nebraskans in agriculture and related fields that includes monthly seminars at college campuses across the state and a second-year overseas travel seminar. My class went to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

I’ve been a Nebraska daily newspaper writer, photographer and columnist (Potter’s Wheel) my entire career, first in the Panhandle at the Alliance Times-Herald for one year, the York News-Times for nearly eight years and the Kearney Hub for 28 years, with a focus on agriculture and natural resources.

Any career advice you would give?

Understand who you work for. We all have bosses, but my goal is to inform and entertain readers, especially rural Nebraskans whose lives and livelihoods as food producers depend on news about agriculture and our natural resources.

Also, getting better at something may be as simple as practice, practice, practice. If you are a writer, write and also read work by talented writers. If you’re a photographer, take lots of photos and practice using different angles and points of view to tell stories visually in more interesting ways. Take pride in your work, but consider ways to do it better the next time.

Count your blessings if you look forward to doing your job on most days and can’t imagine doing anything else.


Lori Potter, top right, joined other NFPW board members in a trip to Yellowstone National Park following a spring board meeting in Idaho Falls. Participating in the trip are from left: Cathy Koon, Barb Micek, Teri Ehresman, Katherine Keniston, Potter and Cynthia Price.

Which talent would you most like to have?

That’s a long list. I often say my knowledge and talents are like the Platte River of pioneer days, a mile wide and an inch deep. I would like to be handy in a MacGyver sort of way. I cannot fix anything that is broken, torn, worn, leaking, dripping, hanging down or that makes a funny noise. The range of my fix-it skills is limited pretty much to sewing on buttons and restarting locked-up electronic devices. It also would be nice to have a great memory with a retrievable archive for people, faces, names and events.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

For me, like most NFPW members who have responded to this question, home is home. I’m a rural Nebraska girl who loves country roads and the people who live and work along them. I need a 360-degree view of the sky, enjoy the changing seasons if they aren’t too severe and get excited when I hear the first call from one of the hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes that stop in the Central Platte Valley each March. I enjoy visiting places with mountains, forests, coastlines and other natural beauty. So the best answer might be to have my permanent home in south-central Nebraska and somehow find the financial means to travel as much as I want and/or own a vacation home in each of the other 49 states.

What book are you reading?

I don’t read many books, but I always have a newspaper or magazine with me, including TIME, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Nebraska History Quarterly (which my oldest brother edits) and Nebraska Life.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

Although speaking in public doesn’t bother me, I’m an introvert who avoids social events that require small talk with people I don’t know well. I have a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do that took me 10 years to complete, from ages 46 to 56. It was a bucket list thing, or more like a do-it-or-forget-it thing. I can whistle really loud hands-free, which is a skill my late farmer brother taught me, and like many NFPW members, I’m mentored at home by two shelter-adopted cats, Thai and Tas.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

I honestly don’t know if I would have stayed in journalism without the support I felt from Nebraska members from the moment I joined. I was amazed as a 22-year-old rookie journalist that a professional organization wanted me as a member. I love what I do, but the pressure of deadlines and a lack of appreciation (monetarily and otherwise) at work sometimes can seem overwhelming. No one understands those issues better than people in the same or similar professions. Many of the best friends I’ll ever have are NPW and NFPW members. I see a few regularly, but I wish I could be with all the others more often than our twice-a-year state and annual NFPW conferences that are like family reunions.

Ways to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

I am not social media literate, mostly because that’s not the way I need to or prefer to communicate on the job or personally. I look at Facebook from time to time to see what NFPW members post, especially during and after conferences. Email (potterspix@gmail.com or lori.potter@kearneyhub.com) is my friend, and I write a blog for which there is a link on the www.nfpw.org website. My Hub stories, photos, columns and occasional videos are posted at www.kearneyhub.com.

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One Comment on “Potter shares writing and photography talents, wins NFPW sweepstakes honor for third time”

  1. Lori’s writing and photography is amazing. I always enjoy conferences and learning what she has been busy doing. She always makes everything sound so interesting — a real talent. She has me completed enamored of sandhill cranes and one year I hope to return to Nebraska to visit with Lori and see the migration. Until then, I will simply enjoy the photos she shares.

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