Small Town, Big Story: My Journey with Ogallala Commons
June 20, 2014

Guest Post by OC Intern Coordinator, Megan England

I am a lover of stories and small towns.

I once thought these passions weren’t relevant to my career. That stories and small towns would always fall into the “hobbies” category.

fall photo shoot (3) - Copy

The year I first heard of Ogallala Commons, I was a shy sixth grader at a rural school in southeastern Colorado. I had decided I wanted to major in something “quiet”, like English or History. Then I got involved in a student leadership/volunteerism group and found out that public speaking wasn’t quite as terrifying as I once thought.

A few years later, I started my first internship through OC—before I could even legally drive. I spent a summer researching, interviewing, and archiving historical data about my hometown. It sounds tedious, but I fell in love with it, especially after learning that I was to digitize years’ worth of WWII letters from an American GI to his British war-bride. I began to realize that my community had a deep, rich history—a story that I could claim as my own.

The next summer, I did a dual-internship, working both for my town and the county Economic Development Commission. I was introduced to the local economy and politics, and was completely captivated by what it takes to make a community work. And the story began taking shape in real time—not just on the pages of a community history book.

As I finished that internship, I was approached by Ogallala Commons to continue my journey and take my next internship with the organization—as the Intern Coordinator. To this day, I’m not quite sure how I survived that summer. Through interns across half a dozen states, I learned more about the commons, and that other communities shared the same victories and struggles. I attended my first OC Board Meeting, and wrote in my intern blog that week:

“I was intrigued (and yes, slightly intimidated) by the conversation of the incredibly talented, motivated, and passionate people on the OC Board…amazing people who didn’t seem to mind taking time out of their day to hear from ‘kids’ like me, really listen to our ideas, and give us great input.”

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, once said, “work for people who believe in you—because when they believe in you, they’ll invest in you.” In sixth grade, I had no idea how those words would come to define me. When I was hired as an OC Staff Contractor, I began to get an inkling.

Today, I remain a lover of small towns and stories. But more than that, I’ve learned my passions don’t have to stay hobbies. Ogallala Commons played a huge role in taking that shy middle-schooler and stretching her so far out of her comfort zone she went from choosing a “quiet” major to becoming a politics-loving university senior finishing a degree equivalent to Public Relations.