Sara Schafer

Who are you?
Sara Schafer, editor of Rural Missouri for Missouri Electric Cooperatives

How long have you worked with cooperatives?
5 years total (in two rounds)

Describe your role.
I serve as editor of Rural Missouri magazine, the official publication of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. In May 2023, I was honored to become the first female editor in Rural Missouri’s 76-year-history. I direct the editorial for the publication and coordinate electric cooperative news through our distribution cooperatives. I oversee a talented staff of six.

What do you enjoy about working with cooperatives?
I love how supportive the cooperative network is when it comes to sharing ideas. My role with Missouri Electric Cooperatives is actually my second stint with cooperatives, and I have been around cooperatives my entire life. As a child growing up in rural Jamestown, Mo., I would visit our local agricultural cooperative with my dad to buy feed and book fertilizer. Then in high school, I represented Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Tipton, Mo., on the Rural Electric Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. That opportunity earned me an internship with a fuel cooperative, MFA Oil, in Columbia, Mo. From there I became an intern for Boone Electric Cooperative, also in Columbia, Mo. After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in agricultural journalism and minor in agricultural economics, I joined the Boone Electric Cooperative Communications Department full time and worked there for four years. For the next 15 years, I was an editor, writer, proofreader, event planner and team cheerleader for Farm Journal and its national network of farm publications. I served as editor of its Top Producer magazine for eight years and served as Farm Journal’s content manager for nearly four years. Originally, I served as a business and crops online editor with the company. So, in short, I loved the cooperative business model and culture so much I’m back to where I started. I am so excited to be part of such a diverse, strong and caring co-op network.

When did you join CCA? Why?
I joined in May 2023. Since I had worked for a national farm publication, I felt right at home with the larger cooperative network as it spans so many types of cooperatives. It has been a huge benefit for me to learn from professionals who represent cooperatives beyond electric cooperatives.

Did anything surprise you about CCA upon joining?
Most professional organizations can be a little clicky, but that’s not at all the case with CCA. I was so excited to feel welcomed as soon as I joined and have made so many new connections with its membership.

How has CCA supported you in your career?
I am constantly blown away by the professional development opportunities this small but mighty organization offers.

What are your hobbies and interests?
I love to hike, bicycle and travel — anything that gets me outside. I’m also a huge reader. This year I’m doing an A to Z reading challenge, where I’m reading a book that starts with each letter of the alphabet. (Anyone have any X recommendations??)

Do you have a “bucket list”? What are some of the things on that list?
My travel list is really long, so I’ll just include a few: Australia, Iceland, Hawaii and New Zealand. My parents took us on epic road trips when my siblings and I were small, so my husband and I are really prioritizing travel and experiences for our 6-year-old daughter. Also, I hope to write a book someday.

Give us something about yourself that is surprising or that most people don’t know.
I love art, specifically drawing and painting. While I haven’t honed my skills for a while, I am quite proud of some of the paintings I’ve done over the years. I took several painting classes from a local art studio as a teenager and have a few Bob Ross paintings in my portfolio. I hope to become a certified Bob Ross painting instructor at some point. #HappyTrees

What advice would you give to professional communicators just starting their careers?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I truly believe people want to help others whenever they can. But you have to ask for the help you need in a specific way. The amazing part of being in CCA is you meet so many people who have similar roles. So, if you’re stuck on something, there’s someone out there who has figured it out. Also, always look for ways to make your work fun. Find the awesome stories to tell, always focus on your audience and create connections and friendships with those around you. Finally, be generous with praise when you see good work around you.

Email Sara here

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