Knight Center student wins Iceland reporting trip

By Finn Hopkins

Recent MSU graduate Cassidy Hough (far right) poses alongside other 2023 Storyfest winners.
Credit: Alexandra Daley-Clark/Lindblad Expeditions

A Michigan State University student recently won a climate change reporting trip to Iceland in a national journalism contest.

Cassidy Hough won first place in the “Best Use of Science or Data” category of the competition with a report on perennial grains for the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism’s Food Fix podcast.

Judges recently announced the winners of the annual national Storyfest competition for exemplary work covering stories on the environment, sustainability and climate change.

The contest is sponsored by Planet Forward, an environmental media non-profit organization operated by George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs.

“When they called my name, I was obviously stoked,” Hough said. “I did a little jig up to the stage and everybody laughed, I couldn’t conceal my excitement,” she said.

Each finalist was introduced by a montage that showed images from their story and college. Lights were dimmed and an envelope was unsealed to reveal the winner of each of the categories.

“It was Oscar’s style, it was so professional,” Hough said of the awards ceremony.

Her entry, “Perennial Grains are the future of sustainable agriculture” details the innovative work done to create perennial grains. These crops could help fight climate change because they do not need to be replanted every year.

Judges at the Storyfest competition called Hough’s entry “unique, fun, and compelling.”

“By guiding us through historical practices, and introducing us to practical possibilities for the future she left us inspired and wanting to learn more,” the judges said in a press release by Planet Forward.

Hough will now travel to Iceland with Lindblad Expeditions aboard the National Geographic Resolution.

“I remember them saying ‘volcanoes, Vikings, puffins, fjords’ and I couldn’t process all the information. I was so overwhelmed with excitement,” Hough said.

The National Geographic Resolution begins its circumnavigation of Iceland on July 15. Hough will work with a team of naturalists, photo instructors, a wellness instructor and an undersea specialist to produce a story during her voyage.

“I think I’ll probably do a podcast about the experience, so I’m really excited for that,” she said.

Hough hopes that she will not be the last MSU student to receive recognition for their work at Planet Forward’s Storyfest competition.

“I just hope that Michigan State keeps going to this event and applying to be Storyfest winners,” she said.

“There’s some really good work at the Knight Center, and I think we could have some good luck in years to come,” Hough said.

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