My day droneth on

IMG_0158Last week I got to watch a drone journalism demonstration. Okay, so we’re a little leery of drones. Without question, they deserve it–especially with the uses we conjure up for them, us humans. But Bill Allen and his students at the MU Science and Agricultural Journalism program where I teach are messing around with drones for science.

I stood on terra firma on Sandborn Field among wispy weeds and plotted ag projects and watched as one of the students, Brendon Gibbons, demonstrated the up, down, sideways, and circular motions he could put the class drone through while the camera stayed steady. Looking over his shoulder, I saw the nearly soundless drone rise to shoulder height and then rise smoothly again to 20 feet and swing out over the field. When it moved speedily forward it tilted slightly in the direction it was headed, but the video and still shots it is capable of stayed focused. The equipment is small and unmanned. The battery, its heaviest component, lasts about 15 minutes.

The class has documented prairie fire (see during a controlled burn at Tucker Prairie near Kingdom City, Missouri, all that’s left of Missouri’s “Grand Prairie.” Earlier they captured footage of 50,000 snow geese in Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area (see due to weird weather conditions. Going where no man could actually go during a fire, being at bird’s eye level for stories on public lands about the environment, floods, drought, and agriculture…drones are not all bad.


About ninafurstenau

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau teaches a Food and Wine Writing for the University of Missouri Science and Agriculture Journalism program and the MU School of Journalism School. Her book, Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America's Heartland was the winner of the MFK Fisher Book Award and Grand Prize Award for culinary/culture writing and designated as a Kansas Notable Book. She has also written Savor Missouri: River Hill Country Food and Wine, celebrating Missouri foodways. Her essay, "And Then There Was Rum Cake," appears in the 2017 anthology, Pie & Whiskey: Writer's Under the Influence of Butter and Booze. Ms. Furstenau was in the Peace Corps in Tunisia from 1984 to 1986 and then began working life as a journalist and publisher/editor of three construction magazines beginning in 1987. Ms. Furstenau and her husband launched and published these magazines and two others until 2001. She was a month-long resident at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, in 2008.
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