Trips as kid lead to career as adult
When she was growing up in southeast Kansas as Jennifer Broadstreet, Jennifer Hess spent time with her parents and grandparents driving through the countryside and visiting interesting places in Kansas. She and her siblings often took hiking trips with their mother, Carol Broadstreet.
“Mom took us to historic places,” she said. “I thought it was better to learn history that way than from a book.”
She became an avid reader of nationally published country magazines while in college.
“I loved Country Extra but I never saw Kansas in it,” she said.
Three years ago, she checked online and found the magazine was looking for field editors. She applied and got the job. She is the only field editor in Kansas. She has also written articles for other magazines such as Birds and Blooms Extra, Good Old Days, and Reminisce.
She’s been into photography since 2007 and takes photos to illustrate her stories.
“I’ve written quite a lot of little things and a few big things,” she said.
Her first articles were about places and events near her hometown of Howard, such as Elk Falls Pottery and the Vintage Camper Show at Elk Falls.
One of her favorites is a May 2019 article about the Flint Hills. It includes a map of historic spots along the scenic U.S.-177 route from Manhattan to Cassoday. A side article lists and describes each one.
“It took me a month to put it all together,” she said. “So many family and friends have come to this area since I wrote about it. They didn’t know anything about it before.”
For her efforts, she was named “Field Editor of the Month.”
“It was such an honor,” she said.
She also wrote about the Dobb’s School House. The old building was dismantled and rebuilt in Emporia when Marion Reservoir was being constructed. She said she heard about the country school while visiting her uncle and aunt, Lester and Bernice Broadstreet, at Marion Assisted Living.
A resident, Nettie Nadine Daily, often told stories about her years attending Dobb’s School. She died in 2017. Jennifer said she wrote the story as a tribute to Nettie.
Last spring, as things were being shut down because of the COVID 19 pandemic, Jennifer decided to plant a patch of sunflowers in her backyard. She found that sunflowers come in several colors. She planted nine varieties and watered them every day. She also kept a diary of their progress. They grew over seven feet tall and had to be staked to keep from falling over in the wind.
“My children were grown, and these were now my children,” Jennifer said. “It gave me something positive to do, and my husband enjoyed it, too.”
When the editor of Birds and Blooms Extra found out about it, she asked Jennifer to do an article on sunflowers. It was published in the March 2021 issue. She plans to double her sunflower plot this spring.
Jennifer keeps a portfolio of all of her stories. She meets with other field editors in online groups, where they develop themes and share pictures and write-ups.
“I’ve made friends all over,” she said.
Gold Old Days is a good magazine for sharing family stories about life on the farm, she said.
She’s done articles on Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park out west and Watermark Book Store in Wichita.
Jennifer has three grown children. She has been married to Jerry Hess since 2010. They live in a house that her father, Lane Broadstreet, grew up in. It was originally owned by her grandparents, Bernard and Jenny Broadstreet.
Jennifer’s byline on her stories is Jennifer Broadstreet Hess.
“I wanted to carry on the Broadstreet name,” she said.
She has fond memories of her Uncle Les, a renowned photographer in Wichita and Marion. She remembers accompanying him to filming appointments in Wichita as a child and carrying his photography equipment for him.
Jennifer has a full-time job, and although she gets paid for her published works, that isn’t her main motivation.
“I do it more because I love writing,” she said. “I love telling stories. I enjoy doing this on my own anyway, so if I can do it and get paid for it, why not?”
About a month ago, Jennifer began volunteering at Marion Historical Museum. She is digitizing museum donations.
The museum was formerly a Baptist church.
“I and my family and friends went to that church, and I feel at home there,” she said.
Last modified March 10, 2021