Meet a Member: Kristin Netterstrom Higgins

Kristin Higgins

Kristin Higgins

Kristin Netterstrom Higgins is one of the outstanding Arkansas members I spent the day with this past fall at the affiliate’s fall workshop. She is one of the energetic members of the affiliate. She is working to make agriculture easier for the public to understand and is continuing her education to be able to help others continue to learn. She is another unique and unbelievable NFPW member I am proud to call a friend.

Name: Kristin Netterstrom Higgins

City and State: Bryant, Arkansas (right outside of Little Rock, and geographic center of Arkansas)

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Arkansas; Current 2nd Vice President and past high school journalism contest director.

Years a member of NFPW:  11 years. (Wow, has it really been that long?)

Tell us a little about you.

I’m originally from Chicago but have lived in Arkansas for more than 20 years, long enough to acquire an accent and claim to be a native. As a child in Chicago, I read the Tribune’s kid section religiously. My grandmother also used to tell me stories about how her father was a newspaper publisher (Arkansas, Iowa, Florida).

All I ever wanted to be was a newspaper reporter, so that was the only path I had figured out for my life. I spent 9 years as a newspaper reporter and then gave it up in 2012 before my daughter turned 2. I realized that I love newspapers but they don’t love me and wouldn’t be there to take care of me when I was old. It was scary and hard trying to figure out what else I could do with my skills, but I realized I love learning about policy and educating others about what laws mean and how they can impact you (I was a city hall reporter after all).

Now I work for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Public Policy Center, Cooperative Extension Service.

Kristin Higgins is back in school working towards a Master's degree.

Kristin Higgins is back in school working towards a Master’s degree.

Otherwise known as Extension. Or the Public Policy Center. Or the UA. Or, those people who brought you Master Gardeners and 4-H and soil testing. I am learning to be an adult educator, meaning I am trying to teach the public important things about boring things. Or about why they should care about something they never thought of before. It’s just like writing a news story – what’s the hook and why should they care. I write newsletters about energy policy, water quality and state ballot issues, which gives me a legitimate reason to still be hooked into APW/NFPW.

I’m back in school, getting my master’s degree in Agricultural Education and Extension. This degree path has taught me about program planning and I’ve even taken some agricultural communications classes that have turned out to be pretty good.

Oh, and I’m married to a wonderful artist who I met at the student newspaper in college. We have one daughter who is turning 5 this summer and growing up way too fast.

Any career advice you would give?

Keep learning – read the latest research, check out MOOCs – those free online classes that many universities are offering. Get involved in your community. Try new jobs – I say this because I think I would be a much better reporter now than before because of the new experiences I’ve had working as a government employee. Being a reporter was my first real job so I’ve learned a lot in my new career that I know would have come in handy. (Maybe this should be advice to editors: hire older people who maybe don’t have journalism degrees because they bring a different perspective than someone straight out of college who may be cheaper but not better).

Kristin Higgins sharing her knowledge about agriculture.

Kristin Higgins sharing her agriculture knowledge.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I would like to be able to play a musical instrument without much effort. I have a cello that I bought a few years ago and took some lessons from a guy who taught kindergarteners. The cello is gathering dust for many reasons. I want to be able to pick up the cello and just play, and not have to learn how to play. Now on to super power: super sonic hearing!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I have yet to figure this out. I’ve come to realize that most cities look the same. Ideally, I want to live in a community where I could walk to the library, bank, post office, grocery store, farmers market, restaurants, school and work. If you know of such a place, drop me a line.

What book are you reading?

For fun: I recently picked up some books by Anne Lamott because of an essay of hers that I saw on Facebook. I’m half way through Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. For school, Measure What Matters: Online Tools for Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships is one of many titles assigned this semester.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I belong to multiple postcard clubs where I send and receive postcards from strangers. This is because I’m not a fan of flying and I probably won’t make it to many countries.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

The people I have met in Arkansas Press Women keep me grounded. They have helped me realize that relationships are important, and that your work is not all of who you are. My first editor –APW’s current president Debbie Miller – invited me to join. Then later, past-president Mary Hightower helped me land the job I’m at now. I had no clue how important these connections would be 11 years ago. And I think I’m finally realizing how important it is to have a national connection, which NFPW provides for all affiliates. I think I could pick up the phone and call an NFPW member in another state who I have never met and easily connect.

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

Follow me on Twitter @knetterstrom, and I am usually the person behind Arkansas Press Women’s Facebook posts. I have a personal Facebook page and I’m also on LinkedIn.

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