Meet the Staff Mondays – Lauren Melink

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks who work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Outdoor Idaho Producer Lauren Melink.

IdahoPTV’s Carol Beres recently sat down with Lauren, the most recent addition to the Outdoor Idaho staff. Lauren says, “I plan and figure out how a show is going to work. We go out and shoot it. I do interviews and write it up and put it together, along with our editor and videographer.” Like many of us, Lauren isn’t native to Idaho, but came by way of a neighboring state. “I grew up in Washington, in a small town called Longview. I went to Gonzaga University in Spokane. I got a degree in Broadcasting and Journalism,” she says.

After that milestone, Lauren traveled for several years. “I backpacked through Central America; I lived in Australia; I backpacked through Southeast Asia. And then I got a job in news in Portland, Oregon, that sent me to the Philippines for six months. When I came back, I traveled around the country for a little while. And then I got a job in news in Bend, Oregon,” she says. After all that traveling, Lauren made the move to Idaho to work at Idaho Public Television.

Not only does Lauren like to be outdoors in her work life, when she’s off work she likes to be outside as well. Her hobbies are trail running, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, and camping. She and her boyfriend just bought a pop-up camper to do some more traveling. Reading and writing are high on her list of activities, as well as art. She says, “I try to dabble in art sometimes, if I’m in the perfect mood.” But perhaps her favorite hobby of all is getting her hands a little dirty. “Gardening is a big one. I have a big vegetable plot, 16 feet by 16 feet. I’m growing all sorts of veggies right now. It’s a really nice hobby to have, because it feeds you,” she says.

Lauren is an avid trail runner. She got interested in it while living abroad. She says “When I lived in Australia, my friend and I read a book called, Born to Run, and we started going on longer runs, like 13, 14, 15 mile runs. Then when I lived in the Philippines, I became friends with some Filipino ultra runners, and they got me hooked on the sport.” Portland and Bend are known for great running trails and she says, “It’s nicer than running on the street. You’re not stopping at stoplights. It’s prettier. It’s just easier on your knees…you put on your shoes and go.”

Running the trails gives Lauren time to contemplate how to turn a phrase for the next Outdoor Idaho program. But it also does the opposite for her. “The Wildflowers show makes me more aware of wildflowers on my trail runs. The Women who Hunt show makes me more aware of people I see wearing packs, clearly training for hunting season. There’s a greater awareness when I’m outside because of Outdoor Idaho,” she explains.

When it’s time to reach for a snack, Lauren likes to keep it simple. “Peanut butter and banana. And cereal. I love cereal, as an after-dinner dessert,” she says. Oatmeal squares, granola and Cinnamon Life are some of the cereals that are in rotation right now. And when it comes to her favorite part of the state, it’s the northern part that she’s drawn to. She says, “I love Sandpoint. It’s just so green and I grew up with a lot of green, so it’s nice to go back to that kind of feeling.” Lauren lists the Sawtooths as another favorite part of the Gem State, as well as Elk City. “I had no idea it was so pretty out there. It’s just beautiful, beautiful country and I drove out at 5:30 in the morning and there were just three elk, multiple deer and turkeys…and fog over the river,” she adds. When it comes to her favorite PBS Kids characters, she remembers watching one show in particular. “I watched ‘Arthur’ a lot as a kid…I liked DW,” she remembers.

Meet the Staff Mondays – Florina Ruvio

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks that work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Family Education Specialist, Florina Ruvio.

IdahoPTV’s Carol Beres recently sat down with Florina. As for what she does, Florina says, “I work with families to help engage parents and caregivers in their children’s learning; because we know that parents are kids’ first teachers, right? We provide parents/caregivers activities, tools and resources that they can use to encourage a love of learning and really help curiosity thrive in children. Hopefully, that encourages a lifelong love of learning. I also do some work with other organizations discussing how we can support families, and provide training on adverse childhood experiences and what can be done to mitigate those. Part of that is providing families with fun activities and resources, like PBS Kids. We not only support children in learning, but help them meet their basic needs by partnering with various community-based organizations so learning can occur. It’s kind of hard to learn when you’re hungry, or tired, or worried. So we do a lot of work with Idaho Children’s Trust Fund, we’re part of the Idaho Resilience Project, and we work with families in schools, libraries, and various family events.” As you can see, Florina is passionate about what she does. “I absolutely love doing all of that work,” she adds.

Florina moved from North Carolina to Idaho when she was a child. “I’m from Parma, usually only Idaho natives know where that is,” she laughs. She went to College of Western Idaho and earned her associate’s degree there, and is currently working on a bachelor’s degree. She says, “I started as a biology major, so I think STEM stuff is a lot of fun. I tend to lean towards more of the biology activities, as opposed to the tech activities that Trisha (another Education Department coworker) does. She likes doing coding and stuff like that. But I like to do chemistry and talk about animals, nature and the natural sciences and about the human body. There was a middle school group in Declo and we made ‘snot’ and they had a pretty good time with that. We talked about the body’s defense mechanisms,” she added. She is working towards a biology major with a psychology minor.

In Florina’s free time, she loves to help out her community. She says, “I’m a volunteer at this organization called Breaking Chains Academy of Development in Nampa. They help at-risk youth complete their diplomas or GEDs. They also provide them with mentorship, recreational activities, and workforce training. I really love that organization, so I try to help them either by taking the kids out for activities, or just coming in and hanging out for a bit with the kids. I really like doing that. Now that I travel so much (Florina travels the entire state for her job) I get to see a lot of Idaho and it’s really beautiful. I just went to Sandpoint for the first time this last year and it was beautiful up there. It’s nice to explore those little-known areas of Idaho as well. I really love American Falls.”

When it comes to Florina’s favorite part of the Gem State, it’s a tough call. “I think up north is the most beautiful, but I really love the community of American Falls. I think they’re so tight knit and doing such a great job. It’s so welcoming; it’s a small town, but they make the most of the resources they have there. Being from Parma, I’m just naturally drawn to the smaller, more rural towns.”

And when it’s time to reach for a snack, Florina admits to a sweet tooth. She says, “especially now in the summer, I just love fresh fruit: berries, cherries, peaches. I’ve been on this strawberries and cream kick lately. In Mexico, they’ll sell fruit cups — they’ll cut up the fruit for you and put it in the cup with Tajin (a blend of chilies, sea salt and lime juice) on it. But the strawberries and cream is made with sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, a little bit of vanilla and sour cream and they pour it over the strawberries. It’s so good! Or cucumbers with lime and salt.” And she has a quick answer to her favorite PBS Kids characters. “I would definitely say it’s Grover. I grew up in the ‘80s and I absolutely loved Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. But I love Grover because he’s so happy and kind of all over the place and I think I can relate to that,” Florina laughs.

Meet the Staff Mondays – Rhonda Yadon

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks that work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Financial Specialist, Principal Rhonda Yadon.

IdahoPTV’s Carol Beres sat down with Rhonda who is one of our newer employees. She works in our Accounting Department. “I’m mostly doing financial reporting and researching government reporting standards,” she says. She’s also helping Idaho Public Television set budgets and assisting the finance team to keep those records straight. “I’ll likely play a key role in the implementation of the new statewide accounting system,” she says. Previously, Rhonda worked for another state agency, but this opportunity brought her here. “I wanted to come here because the position was more of what I enjoy doing,” she says. “I like the positive environment. It’s a really good financial team.”

Rhonda is a native Idahoan. She grew up in Twin Falls. She was Born and raised in the same house. Growing up in the Magic Valley gave Rhonda an appreciation for the Idaho outdoors. “We did lots of camping and motorcycle riding,” she says. “A lot of fishing. I grew up in a family of police officers. We did a lot of target shooting, so I learned to like that, as well.” Rhonda started college at the College of Southern Idaho, but after a year, she transferred to Boise State University and earned her degree in accounting. “I met my husband at BSU,” she says. “We were in student government together. I was Assistant Treasurer. I did all the financial things for the student activities. My (future) husband hired me because he was the Senate Pro Tem for the students.” Rhonda and her husband, Randy, have two teenage boys.

A favorite activity of Rhonda’s is training dogs. “I competed in obedience in 4-H in high school. Before I had kids, I trained dogs for Search and Rescue in tracking, and I got my certification with the National Association of Search and Rescue as a SAR TECH II.” Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time to keep a dog trained, and once Rhonda had kids, she gave that up. But since then, she’s continued her love of dogs, and has trained other dogs in pet therapy. “Labradoodles are really good tempered dogs,” she says. “They have the Lab friendliness and a little bit of Poodle smarts. They make a good therapy dog.”

When it’s time to grab a snack, Rhonda craves some sweet treats. “I really like maple bars,” she laughs. “It’s not very healthy. And I do like ice cream a lot, too.” And Rhonda picks the Sawtooths for her favorite spot in the Gem State. “Just the majesty of the Sawtooths, the hiking and fresh air, no matter what season it is. I don’t mind snow. It’s just pretty up there. That’s mainly where we went camping when I was a kid, too, by Galena Summit and the Stanley area.” These days they take their boys camping and four-wheeling in the Idaho outdoors. And, she still admits to having an adventurous side. “We’ve taken our road bike up there and have done the big Sun Valley to Stanley loop,” she says.” In case you’re wondering, they have a Victory Vision motorcycle, a touring bike.

One trip on their motorbike led to an encounter with a big celebrity. “One year on a motorcycle tour, we went to Glacier National Park and came back through Sun Valley,” she says. “We stopped in there and I got to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was shopping, and I got to meet him. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I got his autograph. He’s not as tall as you would think.” And Rhonda’s passion for going fast doesn’t stop with motorcycles. “I really like roller coasters,” she says. “My family is not so big on it, so I don’t get to go very much. And I like sky diving, too. I did sky diving once, out in Star, which I would love to do again.” She would even give bungee jumping a try, “…especially off the Perrine Bridge, since that’s where I’m from,” she says. “I love the canyon area.” And Rhonda and her family like to take in car shows around the Treasure Valley. “I love classic cars, especially muscle cars,” she adds.

Rhonda zeroed in on Curious George as her favorite PBS Kids character. “Both of my kids liked him,” she says. “We’ve got videos and books, too. Curious George was the common ground with my boys who are three years apart. So when they were both awake, Curious George was the one we could watch and not argue about.”

Meet the Staff Mondays – Jacob Sodeman

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks that work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Philanthropy Specialist Jacob Sodeman.

IdahoPTV’s Carol Beres recently sat down with Jacob Sodeman. “I work with our donors, just connecting with them,” he says. “Something I try to do is connect on a personal level, find out what they care about, find connection points with our station and what we’re doing here and how we can drive that support and take the initiative on those kinds of things.” Jacob says if there’s a certain program that’s interesting to a donor he can steer their support towards it. “If a show needs support then we can raise dollars for that and continue the production and send people out into the field and get those shows on air,” he adds.

Jacob grew up in Kirkland, Washington. “Like anywhere else, it’s grown a lot since I grew up there,” he says. He didn’t go far to get his college degree. “University of Washington – just across the (Puget) Sound from where we were,” he says. His family moved out to Idaho right before Jacob and his wife did. “We ended up moving in with them in a mother-in-law kind of thing,” he says. “My brother and his wife went to school out here and stayed after college.” His first year here was during the COVID lockdown. “The first year was strange, with COVID,” he says. “We didn’t really get to explore the area a whole lot. We did some stuff: getting out into the woods, exploring some nature. This last year has been really nice to go see more of what’s going on and get to know more people, too.”

Jacob understands the value of PBS in his community. “I think just connecting with people that are around you can increase your quality of life a lot, and theirs,” he says. “And people have such interesting stories. I like hearing from other people. I think that’s what Idaho Public Television does so well. Just connecting them with stories of those around them. There are so many programs that we produce that are stories that I’ve never heard of, and new places that I want to go explore. There are always fun dramas and other things, like adventure and travel, and cooking shows. I just think there’s such a well-roundedness to what goes on at Idaho Public Television. I think the education piece of what we do is important, too.”

Jacob and his wife, Kelsey, love to get into the Idaho outdoors. “Recently, we’ve been getting into camping again,” he says. “Kelsey and I both worked at Mount Rainier (in Washington) during the summer. I worked there one summer and I think Kelsey worked there two or three summers. They have this beautiful lodge up there in the National Park. So we worked in the lodge. I was a porter. I was hauling bags up and down the stairs. It was fun. But, I got off at 2:00pm every day there. And I would go hiking after work. It was just an amazing, wonderful summer. Lately I’ve been getting back into hiking. We’ve gone to Redfish Lake a lot. We went to Ponderosa State Park, in McCall, a couple of weekends ago. And we’ve convinced my parents, who aren’t campers, that with a grandchild on the way (my brother and his wife) and other future kids, it would be a good idea to have a pop-up camper…so, soon we’ll be camping with them too.” He says they’ve been exploring the hot springs in the area as well. And Jacob likes to keep active on the basketball court. “I’m not typically a really competitive person, but I do enjoy the competitiveness of basketball. I want to win,” he laughs.

Jacob is pretty open-minded when it comes to his favorite snacks. “I like scouring Trader Joe’s,” he admits. “They always have something good. You could spend hours in there.” His go-to is peanut butter pretzels, though. “They have salted and unsalted versions,” he says. “I always choose the salted. They’re in the blue packaging.” He’s also open to a healthy snack, too. “Another thing I like is at Boise Juice Company,” he says. “They have these açai bowls….they’re really good. It’s basically like a smoothie, but just in a bowl…they’re a little thicker. And then they add on fresh fruit and granola. The one I get has honey drizzled over the top, too. It’s really tasty. Really refreshing on a hot day.”

So far, Jacob has a fondness for exploring the Treasure Valley and the Sawtooths. “The most I’ve explored is the Garden City area,” he says. “Going to the different wineries and there’s a couple of breweries close by, too. So, exploring those and getting to know what’s going on…we like wandering along the Boise River. Redfish Lake is our go to, also. It’s just so beautiful out there.” And he remembers a PBS Kids character that he watched when he was a kid. “So I always loved Wishbone,” he says. “They read stories. Then the dog, Wishbone, and the kids would get transported, in their imaginations, back in time.”

The enjoyment of Wishbone, Jacob says, segued into his and his wife’s love for dogs. “For three or four years, we raised Golden Retriever puppies,” he says. “We had, I think, 25 puppies over three years.” They still have the mama dog of all the litters, plus one of her pups. He says, “It was really rewarding to see all the families and to get to know the people who were going to take home the puppies. We had people from all over.” Jacob and Kelsey had dog lovers call them from as far away as North Carolina. Their dog, Bella Rose, alas, has retired from the puppy-making business.

Meet the Staff Mondays – Jim Hadley

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks that work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Graphic Design Specialist Jim Hadley.

IdahoPTV’s Carol Beres sat down with Jim recently. “I’m responsible for all of the station’s printed materials, which includes newspaper and magazine ads, producing the monthly Channels listings guide in print, online with hyperlinks and each month’s video promotion, as well as some of the graphics for our website and for social media posts. If there are graphics needed for a show, I help out with some of them.” Jim started with IdahoPTV 12 years ago.

Jim is a native Idahoan. “I was born and raised in Boise,” he says. “I went to North Junior High, then Boise High, transferring to Capital High School the 2nd half of my senior year because of cancelled art classes. Then I graduated from Boise State University with my bachelor’s degree in graphic design.” He started in the field before he graduated, so he’s been at it for approximately 44 years. Before coming to IdahoPTV, he worked in the corporate world for many years. “I was an art director at a display/exhibit company and at several ad agencies,” he said. “My last job at an agency lasted for over 20 years.”

Idaho Public Television has what Jim’s looking for when it comes to quality product. “The people are all great,” he says. “We have a reputation of doing solid work and good community work. Bruce Reichert had a pretty well-known reputation as executive producer for Outdoor Idaho. Anyone who ever said anything about Idaho Public Television, or had worked there, always loved it, so that means the people are definitely great to work with.”

Jim has a unique position in which he works with many departments. “I work with management, sponsorship, all of the producers of Outdoor Idaho, or Idaho Experience…every single one of the locally produced shows,” he says. “There’s not a department that I don’t do work for.” One area where Jim really likes to work is editing photos in Photoshop and Lightroom. For example, enhancing the Channels covers. “The cover for Salmon Reckoning for Outdoor Idaho,” he says. “That was a particular challenge because the fish was shot in a fish ladder…to make it look realistic, we had to find a photo of rocks and splashing water. Combining the two together was kind of a trick. Most people, if I do my job right, don’t realize the final image is made up of more than one image. And it’s not just any old salmon pictured. We did tons of research, making sure we had a Chinook salmon that actually was a species that could be found and caught in Idaho.”

Another challenging assignment was the Channels cover for Spud Country. “The Spud Country cover was two completely separate photos merged together,” he says. “There’s all kinds of photos of the Teton Range, but it’s usually from Teton National Park, which is the east side in Montana…the Idaho side is a little bit harder to find photos for. But we had to make sure we were showing a potato field in Idaho, and those Teton’s needed to be from the Idaho side. Most of the time we try to use local photographers. Making it factual, making it true, and correct for Idaho is the number one rule as far as I’m concerned.” One of his favorite covers would be the 2018 December Channels. It had a photo of Merriam Lake he took when he accompanied the Outdoor Idaho crew into the Lost River Range and climbed into Merriam and Pass Lakes near Mount Borah and Mount Idaho, just two of the nine over 12,000 peaks in that area.

Jim takes advantage of the Idaho outdoors in his free time. “I love to go backpacking and fishing in the summer,” he says. “I used to do a lot of snow skiing. Mostly at Bogus Basin, but also Brundage (near McCall) and Sun Valley.” He and his wife enjoy local car racing at Meridian Speedway, music concerts and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival as well. When it comes to his favorite part of the state, it’s tough to narrow it down. “Either the Lost River Range, the Sawtooths or North Idaho…because of the lakes and the gorgeous scenery up there,” he says. Jim doesn’t have a favorite snack, but he says he has a real weakness for candy or chocolate. He takes over the cooking duties in the summertime with his BBQ. “My son-in-law has a Traeger®, so we also use that a lot of the time,” he says. And he has two granddaughters, with another grandbaby on the way. “There’s a boy on the way in November,” he says. Jim’s quick to mention his favorite PBS Kids character is one that holds a special place in his heart. “I think my favorite character would be Big Bird, just because he’s so iconic,” he says. I’ve shot pictures of all my kids and my grandkids with (a stuffed) Big Bird that we have near the Master Control area downstairs.”

Meet the Staff Mondays – Eric Westrom

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks that work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Director/Videographer Eric Westrom.

IdahoPTV’s Carol Beres sat down with Eric recently. He works on our Idaho Experience show. “It sends us all over the state, and occasionally, outside the state if we need to get an interview,” he says. “When we shot our show Idaho’s Constitution Revealed, we went down to Salt Lake when they began the restoration process of the Idaho Constitution.”

Eric grew up in the ‘Big Sky’ state. “I grew up in Missoula, Montana,” he says. “And then I moved down here in 1997 or 98. I was here for a few years for college. Then I left and I was in Chicago for a little bit. And I decided I didn’t want to stay in a big city. So I came back out West, back to Boise.” Eric happened to attend Boise State at the same time as two other IdahoPTV employees, Jenessa Carson and Troy Shreve. “We all have an interesting history, where we were all at BSU at around the same general few years,” he says. “Then we were all at Channel 7 together, and now we’re all over here. We just keep following each other around. Apparently, we like each other,” Eric laughs.

While in Chicago, Eric experienced some of the ups and downs of the movie business. “One of the more interesting freelance jobs I had when I was in Chicago, was as a production assistant in this really terrible horror film,” he says. “I wouldn’t even call it a ‘B’ movie, it was more like a ‘D’. But we were shooting one afternoon, and the production department was way behind on setting up cameras and lights, and everything. So, the extras walked out on us. And that’s when they started recruiting production assistants to be in the background of this scene. So I wound up in the movie, but uncredited.”

 Eric’s hobbies include baseball. “I grew up as a baseball fan,” he says. “And back then, the (Atlanta) Braves were on TBS (Turner Broadcasting System) all the time. So growing up, my parents asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, ‘I want to be the play-by-play guy.’ So I didn’t wind up in front of the camera, which I think is a good thing. I prefer being on the other side and doing the production. And I’ve always had an interest in film, too.” When it comes to his favorite kinds of movies, it’s anything that looks good. “Cinematography stands out to me,” he says. “Even if I don’t like the content of the film. Sometimes I’ll just enjoy the lighting, or how they put things together.” He also enjoys mountain biking and road cycling. “Even the Boise Front, you can just go out for hours,” he says. “It’s nice to detach and leave our connected world behind.”

Eric doesn’t profess to having a favorite snack, but he’s partial to a particular taco truck off Chinden Blvd in Garden City. “I usually get the carne asada tacos,” he says.

With Idaho Experience shoots taking him all over, he’s seen a whole lot of the Gem State. And when it comes to his favorite places, Eric has one spot in mind that he thinks will become his go-to. “Avery, Idaho,” he says. “I was up there with Forrest (Burger, another IdahoPTV employee), working on the train show (Tracks of Time: The History of Idaho’s Railroads), and Avery used to be a stop for the Milwaukee Road (Railroad). And as we were looking for places to shoot, I started getting more interested in just that area. I started seeing images on the internet, thinking ‘Oh,that looks really beautiful on the St. Joe River, up in the Panhandle, where they took an old rail bed and converted it to a bike path. It goes through tunnels that were there for the trains. It’s not too far away from the Hiawatha Trail.”

Meet the Staff Mondays – Trisha Mick

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks that work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Community Education Specialist Trisha Mick.

IdahoPTV’s Carol Beres recently sat down with Trisha, who is a member of our education team. “I do a lot of STEM and literacy education with students and youth across Idaho,” she says. “I focus on kids when they’re in school, at libraries, or during out-of-school time.” Trisha is passionate about what she does. “I get to interact with so many people across the entire state,” she says. “I can put together any kind of lesson plan that a library (or school) wants to focus on. I can do a STEM activity about water resources, or I can do an activity about bats, or I can do a coding activity. So it’s really kind of limitless and I get to choose what I want to focus on, or, what the school (or library) wants to focus on and create a lesson plan for that.”

Trisha is an Idaho native. “I grew up here in Boise,” she says. “I’ve lived in Boise and Meridian my whole life.” But summers she’d spend in Oklahoma with her dad. She appreciates the outdoors that the Gem State offers. “Any time I’m in trees, or in water, I am the happiest person,” she says. Her favorite getaway spot is Donnelly. “My grandparents have a little bit of land and a cabin up there,” she says. “My whole extended family used to go camping all the time. And now, it’s just a nice place to go where we can bring our dogs and have a little bit of privacy.”

Trisha’s hobbies all have the same theme in mind. “Hiking, camping, rafting the rivers in the summer,” she says. “Any time it’s 90 degrees or hotter I am very happy. I am also learning how to build things and doing DIY woodworking stuff. I’ve been slowly teaching myself how to use circular saws and drills and build stuff to make my house feel like a place that I actually want to be.”

She’s working on a few projects in her home, including painting, building a raised garden bed and a plant shelf. In fact, Trisha wants to buy an old school bus and turn it into what’s called a skoolie — a retrofitted tiny home! “We can stay in the bus when we’re traveling,” she says. “My goal is to build it out ourselves, which is part of the reason I want to learn to build things.” She’s already named her future skoolie “Fernweh” which translates from German to “wanderlust.”

Don’t judge Trisha, but she has a very specific set of snacks. “So, because this position requires me to drive a lot (6,675 miles since she started!), I have a superstition about the snacks I have to have while driving, or flying, or any kind of travel,” she says. “It has to be pull-apart Twizzlers and a can of Pringles. I don’t know why, but those are the two things I need to have with me when I travel.” Maybe it has to do with a childhood spent traveling every summer. “When I was a kid and we’d go back and forth to Oklahoma with my dad, in order to stay up all night we would pour Pop Rocks into orange soda and drink them,” she says. “I don’t recommend it. It is not good as an adult, but as a kid, that was what we would do for the two days of driving.”

When it comes to her favorite PBS Kids character, Trisha has a good reason for picking Peg + Cat. “I grew up as a math kid, and as I went through school, I got good grades in math, but I never really loved doing math,” she says. “And now that I have such a focus on STEM, math is everywhere, and I love shows like Peg + Cat that get kids excited about math, because that’s really important for success in life. You have to have an understanding of math in order to be able to do so many things.”

Meet the Staff Mondays – Erin Likins

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks who work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Donor Services Data Specialist Erin Likins.

Among other things, Erin maintains the membership database and answers phone calls from members. “Eventually, I’ll be handling data analytics, giving some insights into how to improve our fund raising efforts. That’s what I’m excited about,” she says.

Erin grew up in Nampa, Idaho. She says she wanted to be a tornado chaser when she was a kid. She went to college at the University of Utah to study Atmospheric Sciences. “It was the same for all the meteorology majors I knew,” she says. “It tended to be a lifelong dream for us, where we’d had a situation, like in elementary school, where we saw a cool cloud or there was a tornado warning or something, and it set us on a lifelong path to being meteorologists. I thought that was a cool thing about the field.” Unfortunately she had to leave after three years.

While down in Salt Lake City, Erin worked at a library. She loved it, and says it was a great experience to get out into the community. “All sorts of people use the library,” she says. “People who are professionals, and people who are currently homeless and in between places, or maybe they’re chronically homeless. So you see all sorts of people, and meet people with all different kinds of personalities and you build relationships. I had a guy who would come in all the time and he would talk to me and he printed out a poem for me once and I always kept it with me. He was super nice. It’s just cool, the relationships you can build in the community.” She also worked at the Boise Public Library before becoming a member of the Idaho Public Television family.

Working at Idaho Public Television helps Erin feel connected to the community. “We have donors that really appreciate us and appreciate what we do, and that reminds me of being at the library,” she says. “Just getting out and talking to the public and meeting the people of Idaho and building relationships with them as a person, but also as an entity. We’re learning their stories and that’s something that I really enjoy.”

When it comes to her favorite part of Idaho, Erin narrows it down to one with family ties. Her grandparents live up north in a town called Weippe. “It’s in the Lewiston/Orofino area and they have 200 acres of land up there and they raise bison,” she says. “I used to go up there every summer and hang out with the bison. It’s forested and very remote, so it’s just a nice, peaceful area. It’s right off the Clearwater River, so it’s very scenic.”

She remembers watching PBS as a kid. “My favorite was Read Between the Lions,” she says. “There was Cliff Hanger, he was always hanging off the cliff, or hanging onto a branch or something. And I loved Reading Rainbow.”

When hunger strikes, Erin turns to a savory snack. “The best snack is a quesadilla,” she says. “Just a tortilla and cheese. You put it the microwave and that’s it. And my friends make fun of me for it, but it’s so good. It’s so simple.”

Erin likes to learn new hobbies to keep things fresh. “Right now I’m getting into golf,” she says. “I’m taking golfing lessons, but I’m not very good. But it’s fun to get outside and enjoy the sun for a few hours. That’s the hobby for this summer. It’ll be something different next summer. Taking my dog for walks takes up some of my time as well.” And tracking the storms still makes Erin’s pulse race. “A couple of years ago, we had some good, severe thunderstorms in the area,” she says. “I’d get in my car and I’d drive around with my radar on my phone. And I’m back to tracking the storms. Even though it’s an inert Idaho thunderstorm, it’s still something that’s exciting to me.”

Meet the Staff Mondays – Jenessa Carson

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks who work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Digital Media Coordinator Jenessa Carson.

When new episodes of Idaho Experience or Outdoor Idaho air, Jenessa converts the video for online viewing, gathers all the information about the show and uploads it so viewers can watch it on YouTube, their TV, computer or other devices.

“If I had to put a name to what I do, I would call myself a ‘media wrangler,’” Jenessa says. “If you’ve ever watched our local shows on our website, our On Demand player or on the PBS Video app then you’ve probably seen what I do. I make sure all the different formats of all the files go to all the right places. And I also have some promotional responsibilities.”

Born in Nampa, Jenessa grew up all over Idaho. One of those places was Lenore, a small town that had a one-lane bridge across the Clearwater River. Her sister and brother went to school in the town’s one-room schoolhouse; however, the school didn’t have a kindergarten, so Jenessa was bussed, with all the high school kids, to Lapwai.

After graduating from Sandpoint High School, Jenessa went to North Idaho College on an academic scholarship. “Two years full ride,” she says. She eventually made her way to the Treasure Valley and earned her bachelor’s degree in communications at Boise State.

During her time at BSU, Jenessa was in classes with Troy Shreve and Eric Westrom, two other members of our production crew. After graduating, all three of them were hired by KTVB, Jenessa and Troy in commercial production and Eric in promotions.

Jenessa likes that when she came to IdahoPTV she used her production experience, but also learned new skills and expanded her sphere into the digital realm.

Jenessa lives in the Treasure Valley, but her favorite part of Idaho is up north. “Even though I was born in southern Idaho, I’m a north Idaho girl at heart,” she says. “And I claim Sandpoint as my hometown. It’s my favorite place to be. Ask me where my happy place is, it’s going to be the lake … we [Jenessa and her daughter, Evie] just love to go swimming. It’s our favorite thing. My mom and my stepdad still live there, so every year I get to go home and visit them and it’s like a vacation and visiting family, all in one. I told them they can never leave. I remember when Evie was little, and we went to the lake. She ran around with her arms out wide, saying ‘I love it! I love it so much!’”

Even when she worked in commercial television, Jenessa wanted to work for Idaho Public Television. “I love that they have quality programming. And that it’s more than just a sound bite. I grew up with it. When I was staying at my grandparents’ house, they didn’t have the TV on very often, but when they did it was either the evening news or channel 4.”

She still has ties to PBS Kids’ programs. Her daughter, Evie, would watch it when she was younger. “She really loved Odd Squad,” Jenessa says. “And I remember times when she was sick, and she’d lie on the couch, and I’d have Sesame Street on, and she was watching it. If I changed the channel to something else she’d say, ‘No, Mom, turn it back. I’m learning.’” Her daughter still has the PBS Kids’ games on her tablet. “They’re really cool apps. She’s into the Scratch Jr. one now. And she tells detailed stories that are really long with the Odd Squad kids.”

When it comes to hobbies, they’re taking a back seat for now. But Jenessa remembers volunteering at the Flicks movie theater, and she used to belly dance. She was on the board of TVTV, which is the public access station in Boise (now TVCTV). She was also a part of the film community in town. But she has more important priorities now, namely Evie.

One hobby she does make time for is movies. “One of the reasons I love movies so much is that growing up, a lot of times we didn’t have TV, especially in the boonies in north Idaho. So Grandpa, who lived down here with a satellite dish, would record movies and then mail them up to us. We would watch those movies over and over and over again. I don’t know how many kids in grade school would willingly watch movies like Gone With the Wind and Yentl all the way through, but we were just starved for entertainment.”

Her favorite PBS Kids character is Snuffleupagus. “Every time he showed up, it was kind of special,” Jenessa says. “I didn’t even know that he was an imaginary friend to Big Bird until I was older. Maybe there was something about that that I liked.” When the urge to snack hits her, she reaches for popcorn. “And I like nuts. But popcorn is my favorite.”

Meet the Staff Mondays – Andy Miles

We thought our readers/viewers might like to learn about some of the folks that work at IdahoPTV. Because there are so many people who work behind the scenes, you may have seen some of them, or maybe only heard about them. Today we would like to introduce Chief Engineer, Andy Miles.

IdahoPTV’s Carol Beres sat down recently with Andy. “I am essentially the one that manages all operations on air at the station; all the operators which control all seven channels on air, and three of our engineers who do maintenance, upgrades and changes throughout the station.” When things go awry, Andy leads the team that keeps us running on the air. “As problems arise, and/or things fail, or servers crash, we find out where the problem is, address what the problem is, what crashed, or if there is a problem and fix it.”

Andy grew up in Boise. “I grew up watching PBS as a kid.” He earned his degree at Boise State University in broadcast engineering. “I graduated in 2010, and I got really lucky. Roughly a year later I landed a job as an engineer. I had been working here part-time as an operator for the (Idaho) Statehouse…and an engineer had just retired, and they were talking about trying to find someone to fill in…and I piped up and said ‘Hi! I have a broadcast engineering degree.’ And they said, ‘Wait! What? Let’s chat.’ I was brought on part-time because it was during our Festival events and they needed more people. And they needed them quickly because we were still live in the morning and at night. I stepped in as an engineer for two weeks to fill in and eventually landed the job.” And about seven months ago, Andy was promoted to chief engineer.

In his hobbies, Andy doesn’t stray too far from his job. “Primarily electronics. Computers. I build my own computers. I’ve done it ever since junior high,” he says. “It’s been a little hobby of mine for many years and I’m actually in the process of doing another one now.” And when he and his family and friends build a new computer, they don’t build the typical computer with a noisy fan to keep it cool. “We do water cooling in the computer. So we set up all these little pipes that go to all the hot components, and then they all connect to a radiator with fans on it. The radiator cools the water, then the water returns and hits the component, pulls the heat off of it and goes back to the radiator. It’s a giant water pump system inside the computer.”

He’s also a fan of card and board games, such as Magic: The Gathering. And in a “normal” year, Andy and his dad will go camping or ATV riding in the mountains. “When I was in high school, I went on a hiking trip with my dad,” he remembers. “We started a couple of miles outside of Boise…and it took a week to hike to the Seven Devils (Mountains). We camped there for three or four days, and then took a week to hike back.” He says they walked ten to fifteen miles a day and then made camp every night. “There’s a couple switchbacks that are quite hard,” Andy says. “There’s one of them called ‘Heartbreak Hill’. They call it that because it takes 10 hours to get up the hill. There’s 20 switchbacks as you climb the side of the mountain.”

In the snack area, Andy likes M&Ms. “They’re my favorite thing in the world.” He goes back and forth between Elmo and Cookie Monster as his favorite PBS Kids character. Andy remembers watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood all the time. He remembers the train scene in that show, another favorite hobby. And his favorite part of the Gem State is Boise. “Mainly because there’s a lot of stuff in this valley…Boise is the one city that’s different from the rest. We have all the big city toys, but we’re not a real big city… a lot of smaller cities don’t have event centers, or sports arenas and stuff like that, and we do, which is different from normal. So we can do a lot of the big city stuff in this smaller city, which is super fun.”