Brooke Rieke Schanowski joined the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership from her hometown of Winfield, Illinois in 2014. Just three years later, Rieke Schanowski graduated with her bachelors degree in agricultural communication in 2016 and became the the on-air meteorologist and reporter at WMBD/WYZZ TV in her home state of Illinois.
[ACEL]: Hi Brooke! Why did you chose to major in agricultural communication at Ohio State?
[Rieke Schanowski]: Going to college, I knew I wanted a program that was going to best prepare me to be a meteorologist. When most people hear that I studied agricultural communication, they’re often confused. Honestly, I could not have picked a better program. Not only did I learn how weather impacts agriculture, but I also learned how to communicate complex topics in normal conversation. I fell in love with the Buckeye spirit when I visited. The atmosphere of the campus was infections. Everyone was friendly and happy to be a part of a long-running tradition.
How did your education at Ohio State prepare you for your career?
It helped me learn that I did want to be a meteorologist. With having two internship experiences (one at ABC 7 Chicago and one at NBC 4 Columbus) I learned exactly what happens on a daily basis at a news station. And the classes I took not only helped me learn certain information, but it made me apply it to real-life situations.
In addition to internships and classes, how did you stay busy on campus?
I was a CFAES Ambassador, Buckeye Book Community Selection Committee, Media, Marketing, and Communications (MMC) Scholars Program, Real Life, and a CFAES office assistant.
What classes did you enjoy the most while at Ohio State?
My all-time favorite class was photography with Dr. Buck. First and foremost, I learned A LOT! I loved working on my homework assignments, getting out of my comfort zones and taking pictures of different subjects. But I think my favorite part of the class was the underlying lesson; looking at the world from a different vantage point. Taking pictures, I truly was able to appreciate the beauty of the material. And that’s why to this day I can never pass up taking a picture of a sunset over a cornfield or a forest frosted with the year’s first fresh snow. I also enjoyed Nicole Kraft’s journalism class and Tom Stewart’s public speaking class.
What professor had an impact on your education?
Dr. Buck had the biggest impact on me. She was just a down-to-earth individual that was truly passionate about what she does. The number one thing I learned was that if you’re passionate about something, nothing will get in your way of reaching for the stars.
What is your favorite memory related to your time at Ohio State?
I probably didn’t know it at the time, but my favorite memory was when the CFAES Ambassador Team went on enrichment trips. The amount I learned on those trips to California and Arizona regarding the variety of agricultural practices throughout our country; it was incredible. And being placed in an environment that was completely different than the Midwest, it was very interesting to learn all about it. And from those trips, I know not to take anything for granted. Because every place in the world has its challenges, but it’s how you experience it that makes all the difference.
What was your first job following your education at Ohio State?
My first job (which is also my current job) was an on-air meteorologist/reporter for WMBD/WYZZ TV in Peoria, Illinois.
How are you involved in the community outside of your career?
For me, it’s important to be involved in the community so that I know the faces of those who watch my broadcasts. My main one is that I volunteer with Goodwill and I am a Goodwill GoodGuide. Every Monday, I meet with a group of students and talk to them about how their week went. We go over important lessons that are pertinent to their lives. Whether it’s job skills, self-confidence or dealing with a difficult situation, we talk about these life events in order to grow as a group.
During your career, honors or awards have you been presented?
I have received Employee of the Month… woo!
As of today, what is your favorite career highlight?
Oof… that’s a doozy. There are a few that stand out. But seeing that I am a Chicago Cubs fan, it has to be around our World Series coverage. Fortunately, since we’re an Illinois TV station, we got to do coverage of the World Series for our channel. The day after the World Series win, I got to do a story with a woman who has a special Cubs chair in memory of her late husband. And just talking to her about what that win meant to her, was very special.
What advice would you give to a current student?
Do something you love. I’m sure you hear that all the time, but seriously, do something you love. Even if you’re passionate about something that you don’t think you can make into your career, try to incorporate it into some aspect of your life. Because I am truly blessed that I get to go to work, and I love (almost) every minute of it.
What did ACEL cultivate in you?
It may be silly to say, but ACEL has cultivated the Buckeye spirit in me. And for someone who didn’t go to Ohio State, they wouldn’t understand what that means. Let me elaborate. That Buckeye spirit has shown me to work hard for your passion. It has taught me to have a friendly personality and contagious energy. And most importantly, it has shown me how to be proud of what you have accomplished, and what you continue to strive for.