Photojournalist, Schaller Native, Captures Life from Ireland to New York Farms

(story by Tim Gallagher)

A 4-H experience as a child planted the seeds for a career that’s taken root for Buena Vista University graduate Emily Kenny.

Kenny, a 2019 graduate of BVU earned her master’s degree at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 2021, studying multimedia photography and design. She spent the following year working for a pair of National Geographic photographers before earning a position as a digital journalist serving Spectrum News One in Syracuse, N.Y., compiling stories and images in agriculture and food production.

“I started in another major when I went to BVU, but soon found my passion in digital media,” says Kenny. “Dr. Andrea Frantz (Professor of Digital Media) encouraged me as she’d seen photography I’d done while I was in 4-H.”

Kenny, who was raised on a farm east of Schaller, majored in both digital media and psychology. She now documents the work of farmers throughout central New York and the Finger Lakes, in part through Report for America, a nonprofit organization devoted to local newsrooms across the country. Journalists with Report for America supply content for newsgathering agencies such as Spectrum News One.

As Kenny works to share the stories of dairy farmers in New York, she calls upon some of her experiences as a BVU student, where she chronicled the work and lives of subjects from Storm Lake to South Africa to Sneem, Ireland.

“I did an internship in South Africa, taking photos on wildlife preserves,” she says. “I traveled to Ireland on a storytelling trip and spent one week photographing and interviewing residents of the village of Sneem. I did an internship at the Minneapolis Zoo and served as Visuals Editor and Editor in Chief at The Tack (BVU’s online newspaper).”

Those experiences served her well while succeeding at one of the premiere graduate schools in the country for journalists. The experiences continue to pay dividends as Kenny plays a role in educating the public about the complexities of food production and the battles faced by small farmers.

“I learned so many different skills at BVU in the digital media program, from writing to video production to longform audio storytelling,” Kenny says. “I received BVU funding to help make many of those experiences possible. And I always felt the support of my professors. My time at BVU helped me achieve my goals following my graduation.”

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