SIDNEY — Heather Willard has joined the Sidney Daily News editorial staff as a reporter. Willard will be covering Anna, Botkins, Jackson Center, Houston, Minster and Russia, as well as writing features and covering court and police beats as needed.
“I’m incredibly thankful to have a job in my field directly out of college,” Willard said. “I’m excited to work in Shelby County and learn from my coworkers here at the paper.”
The SDN news staff is excited to have Willard on board.
”Heather is bringing a breath of fresh air to the newsroom with her enthusiasm in learning about Shelby County and the communities she will be reporting on,” said Melanie Speicher, SDN editor. “I believe she will become an important part of Sidney Daily News’ commitment to its readers and our community.”
Willard graduated from Cuyahoga Community College in 2014 with an Associate of Science and an Associate of Arts, before going on to earn a Bachelor of Science from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism this year.
“I graduated from high school very early and started writing for the local paper in Cuyahoga County while I earned my first degrees. Having such a head start let me graduate from OU when I was 20,” Willard said.
While at OU, Willard worked for many publications, including The New Political, College Green Magazine, Southeast Ohio Magazine and as the department writer for OU’s Plant Biology department.
“I followed student government, activists and environmental news mostly, but I also managed a small staff of feature writers at Southeast Ohio,” Willard said. “I never liked being bored, so I also volunteered as the staff photographer for The New Political and Southeast Ohio whenever possible.”
Willard had one internship during her two years at OU, at DIFF magazine, based out of Virginia. “I was the graphics, social media and editorial copy co-chief, as well as a writer,” she said. “It was a really good experience and I learned so much from my editor and coworkers.”
Willard enjoys many hobbies outside of journalism.
“I’m passionate about science, nature and photography,” she said. “I love the incredible landscape in the United States, and want to learn as much as I can about the way things grow and change, and want to document their beauty as best I can. I aspire to travel the world some day.”
Willard moved to Sidney this month from Cleveland. She has two siblings, Marian, 21, and Cary, 24. Her father, Thomas Willard, is a database administrator and currently works for Cuyahoga Community College. Her mother, Brenda Willard, is a stay-at-home mom and caregiver.
“I spend a lot of time binge-watching YouTube and making pasta,” Willard said. “Way too much pasta. But cooking for or with friends is one of the best experiences you can have.”
Look for Willard out and about covering news for the SDN in Shelby County.
“I love incorporating data and graphics into stories, and using those to hold government officials accountable. As I learn about Shelby County more, I will definitely incorporate those more into my work,” she said. “With the current tension between higher levels of government and the media, I hope to show that we just tell the facts in an unbiased and interesting manner. I hope to see all sides of every story, so please call me if you think I can be doing something better.”
Willard can be contacted at 937-538-4825 or via email at email@example.com.