Green Laker reporter Joe Schulz bids farewell outside of his 2001 Oldsmobile, which he routinely used to go from Oshkosh to Green Lake. submitted photo
by Joe Schulz
When the summer began, I was glued to my GPS the entire drive to Green Lake.
Now I could drive from Oshkosh to Green Lake with my eyes closed.
In a lot of ways, the story of my summer in Green Lake is the story of a boy and his car.
Each week I would make the trek from Oshkosh multiple times, often stopping for breakfast and an energy drink along the way.
I’ve racked up the mileage on my 2001 Oldmobile, but it was worth it. The Green Laker was the best summer job I could ask for.
As a kid, I dreamed of being the next George Lucas.
I wanted to make movies, but I doubted my chances coming from Wisconsin.
My junior year of college I decided to pursue my other passion: writing. I declared as a journalism major and started writing for the school paper the same week.
After a few months at The Advance-Titan, I fell in love with telling other people’s stories.
The Green Laker gave me a chance to tell other’s stories professionally. For the first time, I was on the payroll at a real newspaper.
Over the course of the summer, I spoke with many people from Green Lake. Everyone I talked to was extremely helpful.
Folks in Green Lake genuinely care about their community. Every event I wrote about, organizers emphasized the importance of giving back.
I had never encountered that kind of compassion before, whether it’s 100 volunteers coming together to build a museum in Princeton, or a terrace built to bring the community together.
Green Lake never ceased to amaze me. I made some unforgettable memories, from lounging at Hattie Sherwood Campground to biking with Todd Sharp.
Joe Schulzs hold up his almost literal donut inner tubes at Hattie Sherwood Beach. Katherine Swapp photo
One of the memories I will never forget is the fear I had driving home from the Fourth of July celebration.
The Fourth of July was a lot of fun, but almost immediately after the fireworks it started to downpour.
The entire ride home in my trusty Oldsmobile, I could only see about 5-feet ahead of me. Thankfully, I made it home safe and emailed photos on time.
This summer wasn’t all fun and games, it was quite stressful at times as well.
Early on, I was working about 30-hours a week at Kwik Trip, on top of The Green Laker. Towards the middle of the summer, I convinced my boss to scale my hours back so I could focus more on reporting.
Towards the end of the summer, when my store became the first in the district to carry fried chicken, I ended up getting scheduled more than what was ideal.
But I survived. More importantly, in some ways I thrived. I learned that anything is possible, no matter how bleak things seem.
This summer taught me that if you really dedicate yourself, you can beat the odds. There were weeks where I didn’t know if I would make deadline.
Besides all the mushy stuff, I learned how to be a better reporter. I learned that not every story deserves a straight news lede. I also learned that not every sentence needs the word “said” in it.
I really appreciate everyone at The Ripon Commonwealth Press, for all they did to train me.
Jonathan Bailey, thank you for making me rework ledes (it always improved the story) and pushing me to make my photography more fun. You were super receptive to my story ideas and supportive throughout the summer. It was a pleasure to learn from you.
Tami Conlon and Brandi Dolgner, thank you for turning some mediocre photos into great covers for The Green Laker.
Hannah Tetzlaff, thank you for letting me contribute to the Area section of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.
Tim, thanks for taking the chance on a blue-collar kid from Oshkosh. This was the best summer job I’ve ever had, and I’ll never forget it.
All in all, it was a great summer, and I plan to share what I’ve learned with the staff of The Advance-Titan as we begin a new semester.
Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone in Green Lake Country for welcoming me into your community with open arms.
For now, so long Green Lake. It’s been a lot of fun.
Publisher’s note: Joe, while our wish for you should be a bright future in journalism, we actually hope your career tanks so you’ll return as Green Laker reporter again and again! Seriously, you were terrific: met deadlines, generated story ideas, wrote well, took innovative photos and accepted direction and correction graciously. Your many talents mean you will be a success in your professional pursuits. We were privileged to be at the start of your journey.