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Landon in Lansing: Reflections after six weeks

By Landon Ford

LANSING, Ill. (November 20, 2021) – Hello, my name is Landon Ford. I live in South Holland, and I go to school at Unity Christian Academy. Currently a senior, and I’m an intern for The Lansing Journal. Well, used to be. On the 19th of November, my internship came to an end, and I have to say this is really bittersweet. I really enjoyed these six weeks working with The Lansing Journal, and with Josh Bootsma and Melanie Jongsma. Both of them taught me many things about being a journalist, and a team player. On the other hand, no more late nights. Besides that, I thank The Lansing Journal Team, and Unity Christian Academy for allowing this opportunity to happen. But I want to reminisce about the past, so let’s start back on…

Friday, October 9

It was quite the surprise to hear Mr. Neil Okuley, the Head of School at UCA, come up to me and said that the folks at The Lansing Journal took an interest in me. I was nervous at first, and wanted to refuse, but Mr. Okuley insisted I be under The Journal’s wing.

On that Friday morning, I received a phone call from Josh and Melanie. It was time for the interview. The reason they called me was so they could get an idea of who I am. I said the basic info of what I liked to do, why I considered joining the team. Well, I didn’t really have an answer other than “I wanted to see the world in a different perspective.” It is cliché, I know. But I really want to see the world in a different light. I am getting close to adulthood, so might as well start somewhere. I learned about what was going to happen over the six weeks working with them, and what it means to be a part of The Lansing Journal. The interview went very well, and I was going to talk to them in person next Tuesday.

I also had another surprise interview. It was led by Jenifer Yos, a freelance writer for The Journal. We talked about many of the same topics, and why UCA is doing the internship program. She used the interview for an article about my internship.

The rundown

I finally had the chance to meet Josh and Melanie at Blueberry Field in South Holland. I learned more about what was going to happen during my six weeks. My job as the first intern for The Lansing Journal really seemed important. And really it was! So basically here’s how most weeks were handled:

  • Monday: Regular check-in with Josh at either the South Holland Public Library or Lansing Public Library
  • Tuesday: Touch-base Tuesday lunch meetings with Josh and Melanie. Attend Village Board meetings in the evening, if scheduled.
  • Wednesday: Free day (Catch-up on assignments)
  • Thursday: Regular check-in with Josh
  • Friday: Either news assignment or report to school

That doesn’t seem like a lot right? Well, it was!

From left, Managing Editor Josh Bootsma, Publisher Melanie Jongsma, and Journalism Intern Landon Ford touch base at Blueberry Field in South Holland. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

These six weeks

From attending board meetings to handling camera equipment, my job as an intern was quite busy. I wasn’t particularly fond of the board meetings in retrospect, but it was very interesting to hear about how leaders of a community decide what is best for it. I believe the most interesting ongoing story that came out of those meetings was Paragon Freight. Basically, the trucking company wanted to have an area rezoned to operate there, but the site is near a residential area, and the residents have fought against the rezoning.

Landon takes notes at a public meeting during his six-week internship. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Paragon Freight

The day after the meeting, Josh and I began to review what happened. There, I learned how to initially write a story, and gather information for interviews. We came up with many potential interviewees, about six of them. But our main focus was the General Manager of Paragon Freight, Preston Bowers; and a local resident and attorney, Roberta Buoscio. We both created questions for these and other individuals, sometimes asking them over the phone, and other times over email. Another public meeting was held on the 2nd of November, and Paragon Freight was one of the highlights of the night, with a public reaction similar to the last meeting. The ordeal hasn’t been resolved yet.


Besides the meetings, my job also consisted of camera work. My first job with the camera was at the ribbon cutting at Golden Bear Restaurant on the 15th of October. I was worried about using a camera for official business, but Josh and Melanie had my back. To shill for a moment, please try the food at Golden Bear, it is just sooooooooo delicious! But back on track, another instance where camera work was involved was the weekly recap: On the 28th of November, I helped Melanie and Josh with recording, and editing their weekly video. I had a bit of experience editing videos so it wasn’t that bad. My final task with camera work was at Kasey’s Banquet Hall. The hall was beautiful, and it was pretty interesting how the process was completed.

Solo assignments

As a Journalism Intern, writing a story was strongly required by the school, and Josh and Melanie. With their help, I have four stories under my belt. The UCA Work Day on October 30, the Fox Pointe Halloween Event on October 31, a Daylight Savings Time update on November 4, and the Day of the Dead event at the South Holland Public Library on November 6. I had many responsibilities on my hands with deadlines, attending said events, interviewing, taking photos, and writing the story. While it was hard work, the majority of my work was met with positive reception. I got to meet and talk to different people, and learn more about why they were there.

Learning who my mentors are

While working with Josh and Melanie, I learned a few things about them that will always stick with me.

With Melanie, I had proposed for her to help me with an assignment I had for an online class on public speaking. She agreed, and suggested that I join a Common Ground meeting. These meetings are occasional check-ins with different groups of people hailing from different races and backgrounds. One of the things I learned about Melanie and these people is that they are learning about each other and where they come from. I could tell some heavy topics were spoken about in these meetings, but everyone there seemed supportive enough to continue. The next day, I conducted an interview with Melanie about being a leader. To summarize, as a leader, Melanie is not alone. She is willing to open up and prepare herself for those meetings. She encourages her members to speak up and feel that their words have meaning. She doesn’t want anyone to be alone, including her.

Landon observed Melanie Jongsma at a group meeting of Common Ground at Freedom Church in Lansing. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

With Josh, I proposed to conduct an interview with him about being a journalist on the last day of the internship. I learned that he never really intended to be in the journalism world, but as time went on, he learned a few things that he liked to do. He likes to write, and he is willing to listen. He often does research on certain topics to get a clear vision of a story. When writing a story, he often tries to put himself in other people’s shoes. He likes writing about people and their lives. I believe that is the main reason why he became a full-time journalist for The Lansing Journal.

Josh Bootsma gives Landon a tutorial on how to operate The Lansing Journal’s drone. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)


Looking back at it now, these six weeks went by so fast. I didn’t even think that the 19th would come this quickly, but here we are. I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who was involved in my internship. Thank you Josh Bootsma and Melanie Jongsma for guiding me. Thank you UCA and Neil Okuley for giving me this opportunity, and helping me broaden my career. Finally, I would like to thank you readers. For making the stories I write matter.

I might see you in a future story!

— Landon

View Landon’s stories here.

Landon Ford
Landon Ford
Landon is an 18-year-old senior at Unity Christian Academy in South Holland, Illinois, participating in their pilot internship program. His six-week assignment will provide an opportunity to attend meetings and events and learning interviewing and reporting skills. Landon loves to read fantasy, sci-fi, and non-fiction novels. He also spends his free time practicing the trombone or playing video games.


  1. Good luck, Landon! I enjoyed reading about your experiences during your internship. I can tell you are going to be successful in what ever you decide to do.

  2. Good Luck in whatever you end up doing with your life. I know you will succeed. You have a great outlook and I truly enjoyed your writing.

  3. Great job Landon! You represented yourself, UCA, your community, and The Lansing Journal very well during your internship. You should be very proud of your work and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you!

  4. Interesting story about the newbie at LJ!Landon appears to be a great fit for the job and is warmly welcomed by the community. He has already proven himself qualified at this young age~ with a promising future! Great job Landon~God bless!!

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