The History of the W. K. Kellogg Biological Station – Book

Some things take a little longer to come to fruition. This book is one of them. In 2012, Michigan State University’s Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) contracted me to join the history team to help them write the history of KBS. I worked on the project until 2015, researching and writing the early drafts of the first four chapters of the book as well as helping Dr. George Lauff draft the prologue. Dr. Lauff, A former director of KBS wanted to see this project through. He did. Dr. Lauff died in August, 2019 at the age of 92 knowing the book was finished. In The Founders Footprints: A History of Michigan State University’s W. K. Kellogg Biological Station was released in November of 2019.

Bonnie Feldkamp worked with the committee to draft initial chapters of this book.”

In the Founders Footprints – introduction

I am extremely grateful to Danielle Zoellner and Katherine Gross for including me on this project and seeing it through to competition. Their dedication is why this book is a meaningful reality for the station. I look on my time with the history team fondly and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn how KBS all began with W.K. Kellogg – the cereal king.

Also, as part of my role in the project I fleshed out interesting stories that would not make it into the book so they could be published on the KBS History Website. The story of the Van Duesen family was one such story. Roswell Van Deusen was the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary director and his family lived on site. What an upbringing that was! Read the full story HERE.

The History Team

From Left to Right: Dr. Michael Klug, John Gorentz, Bonnie Jean Feldkamp, Barb Baker, and Dr. George Lauff during a KBS History Team meeting in March of 2013.

The Book

Read the announcement and download the pdf of the book in the link below.


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Ohio River Water Pollution

Ohio River Pollution. Chuck and Jeremy walk along the licking river across from IPSCO - a corporation with a NPDES permit to pollute.

We mapped out the EPA permitted Ohio River Water Pollution. Here’s what we learned.

The Clean Water Act’s original goal was to completely eliminate discharges into waterways by 1985. Yet, the permitting process for Ohio River water pollution is still quite extensive, with no end in sight, and plenty of violations. We mapped the Ohio River water pollution permits, talked to the EPA, looked into a lawsuit, and talked to environmentalists. Here’s what we learned. I hope you’ll take time to read.

“A study from Frontier Group and Environment America Research and Policy Center examined NPDES permit data from 2011 to 2017 and found that an average of 27,849 facilities were noncompliant each year across the United States. Of those noncompliant facilities, the study found only an average of 13,076 faced EPA or state enforcement action on an annual basis.”

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp

Good River: Stories of the Ohio is a series about the environment, economy, and culture of the Ohio River watershed, produced by seven nonprofit newsrooms. To see more, please visit ohiowatershed.org.

This is Bonnie’s second article in the Good River: Stories of the Ohio Series.  Bonnie’s first contribution to this series is about the city of Newport, Kentucky and community members working together to remove concrete and add green space to include more green infrastructure in their neighborhood. You can read that article here:

Read Bonnie’s contribution to Good River: Stories of the Ohio by clicking the link below. For More from Bonnie click Clips. Thanks for reading!


Editorial Board adds Bonnie Jean Feldkamp – Cincinnati Enquirer

Freelance Writer, award-winning, editorial board
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp Freelance Writer

As a writer, wife, and mother, the importance of strong community resources speaks to me both personally and professionally. I am one of newest editorial board members for the Cincinnati Enquirer. I am thrilled! My contributions to the Cincinnati Enquirer to date have been through writing op-eds. Opinion pieces. Op-eds provide the opportunity to tie personal experience to current events and reach readers beyond data points to help them relate, empathize, and care about what’s going on in the world. As a community member of the Editorial Board, I’ll continue lending my voice to important topics affecting the community. Here’s what the Enquirer says:

These community leaders represent diverse ideologies, political perspectives and geographies and will provide insights that will help shape the opinions we advance online and in the printed newspaper.

These community board members will serve one-year terms, and they will meet with us once a month to debate local and state issues and meet with newsmakers. They will occasionally write columns or provide dissenting opinions to The Enquirer’s editorials.

These new members are straightforward, passionate and engaged in the issues impacting Greater Cincinnati. They know how to make their points clearly, thoughtfully and, most importantly, with civility. 

Cincinnati Enquirer

The announcement quoted me saying that I love writing, “”because you don’t have to know all the answers, you just have to know how to ask questions, listen, and communicate what you’ve learned in a way that’s understandable and hopefully enjoyable.” I look forward to sharing more of what I’ve learned in articles for the Enquirer. Read the full announcement in the link below. Also, read more about me here. The Cincinnati Enquirer is a vital community resource. I am honored to contribute.


Good River: Stories of the Ohio includes work from Bonnie Jean Feldkamp

Good River: Stories of the Ohio is a collaborative reporting project with support from the National Geographic Society. The Ohio River watershed provides drinking water for five million people. So the stories of the Ohio and the people who help and hurt the river are vitally important. Bonnie’s first contribution to this series is about the city of Newport, Kentucky and community members work together to remove concrete and add green space to include more green infrastructure in their neighborhood.

Volunteers help ReNewport Executive Director Josh Tunning (far left) plant trees where they’ve depaved sections of the sidewalk in Newport, Kentucky

The ultimate goal of green infrastructure is to keep rainwater as close to where it falls as possible. When an urban area lacks greenspace, water can’t get absorbed and it overwhelms the wastewater collection system. Many older river cities have outdated infrastructure.

ReNewport approaches stormwater challenges in its community by assessing vacant lots for greenspace opportunities.

“We’re really trying to make as many tiny sponges around the neighborhood as possible,” said Steve Mathison, vice president for ReNewport.

Bonnie jean feldkamp

Read Bonnie’s contribution to Good River: Stories of the Ohio by clicking the link below. For More from Bonnie click Clips. Thanks for reading!

Bonnie’s second contribution to this series is about industrial water pollution in the Ohio River Watershed. Read that article Here.

Read more from Bonnie about better stewards of the earth in Northern Kentucky.

If you enjoyed learning how Newport, Kentucky worked together to add a park and additional greenspace to their community, you may also love this story about the Northern Kentucky family who built their own solar-power house to live off the grid in Campbell County. Read it at the link below!


Bonnie Jean Feldkamp Essay Included in New Anthology

I am thrilled to be one of the writers Gina Barreca has invited to contribute to a new Woodhall Press anthology and can not wait to read the full table of contents. I am, no doubt, in good company!

Gina has invited dozens of the smartest, funniest, and best women writers to submit pieces that have the shimmer of humor, and also the deep shine of significant ideas. This will be a landmark collection in the world of women’s humor and women’s stories.


My Hometown of Cincinnati

This piece originally appeared in the Conference Book for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists annual conference that took place June 7-10, 2018. I was the conference chair. 

 

Bon in Reds Hat“If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.”

This quote has been attributed to both Mark Twain and Will Rogers. I’ll let you pick who really said it. Though the remark may be an outdated exaggeration, Cincinnati is steeped in tradition grown from a dominant German heritage (Feldkamp is almost as common as Smith around here). Downtown has progressed with the demands of the 21st century, but Cincinnatians hold strong to their roots. Me included.

I was born and grew up on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River where the Cincinnati skyline was always a sight to behold. At fifteen, I got a job at Riverfront Stadium. After school, I’d ride the public TANK bus to downtown Cincinnati where I’d watch the Reds and Bengals play while I worked in concessions. I worked there until I graduated high school in 1993. If you know your sports, then you know how cool that was. As a teenager, I got to work the 1990 World Series games. Very cool.

The conference is over. It was a great weekend. A joy to meet each and every one of you. I hope you take some of my affection for Cincinnati home with you. Presenters Howard Wilkinson and Polly Campbell shed light on the local political and food scenes. Jerry Springer weighed in with his perspective on celebrities entering politics, and if there was ever a Royal First Family of Cincinnati, the Clooneys would be it. Nick Clooney was powerful and insightful in his keynote talk. There wasn’t a dry eye after Clarence Page spoke of his high school advisor. Tears flowed because we’ve all been there. We all had that one teacher in our corner. Mine was present at the conference (he’s now retired and a columnist himself) and it meant the world to me.  Josè Antonio Vargas and Rochelle Riley reminded us that America’s narrative isn’t always pretty, lets not forget.  Peter Bhatia showed us what happens when an editor believes in his reporters and gives them the resources to tell the stories behind heroin crisis data we keep seeing. Connie Schultz was honored with the Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award. She reminded us that our job is to bring forward our opinions with integrity and tell the stories of common and disenfranchised individuals like DACA babies with no voice.  These people and their stories need a spotlight more than any celebrity ever did. 

Greater Cincinnati’s pride revolves around its ability to preserve the city’s heritage while baring its historic scars. When you live where the north meets the south, ideals clash. Some conference guests explored Cincinnati beyond the event speakers, to visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and dive into the tensions of our past (and present) but also find hope for our future.

I live a little further south, in Louisville, KY, these days, but I still write in the Cincinnati market and I make a trip to the city several times a month. Driving on the I-75 interstate, “the cut in the hill” as it’s called, I still get a nostalgic pang when the Cincinnati skyline appears before me. Cincinnati is the city that raised me. I don’t really think things happen here ten years later but I do think this big city manages to hold on to its Midwest charm. When you leave, you may feel as if you had just visited the biggest small town in the country.

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp (@WriterBonnie)

Louis CK made #MeToo Hit Closer to Home

#MeToo

#MeTooThe Louie CK story is one familiar to me. His statement bubbled up a story of something similar that happened to me when I was 31 years old. I was watching my daughter play with her cousins in the backyard.

It was a hot sunny day and I decided to lie out on a towel and get some sun. In a two piece bathing suit, this mom was suddenly aware that the older neighbor man was excited by this. When I glanced his way, he showed me his erection.

What do I do?

This man muttered breathy things about “that puss” as he gratified himself.

The kids were oblivious and playing. I chose to ignore this creepy neighbor guy. He never touched me. He never asked me for anything, but he masturbated and he wanted me to know that I had prompted his excitement. He knew I would maintain normalcy for the sake of the kids.

I could have done more.

I could have made a stink.

I could have told him off.

My silence was not consent.

But I do feel guilt about it. I wonder if the man thought my consent was implied with my decision to do nothing but wish it to be finished soon.

I hadn’t told anyone that story until yesterday.

After reading Louis CK’s statement, I told my husband.

This one hurts.

Louis CK was a guy who in our eyes “got it.”

We quoted him daily.

We bought his shows. His movies. His stand up. Even the stuff for $5 from his website.

We watched him with our daughters.

We were fans.

I’m reading articles from people saying they could’ve done more – they should’ve done more. Because they knew the rumors were plentiful enough that they knew something was up.

I think we can all pinpoint a time in our lives where we could have done more. And we can “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” all day long.

I remind myself that as we raise badass kids who speak up and speak out, we also have to remind them that sometimes it is okay to get through the situation and survive. Especially when you are the victim.

Whatever choice a person makes it will, no doubt, riddle them with guilt.

The neighbor guy does not haunt me (other horrors hold that honor).

Did he make my skin crawl? Yes.

Did it gross me out? Of course.

But he did not wreck my life. I did not have to work with him. He was not my mentor or boss. I wrote him off as a creep, kept my distance and a close eye on my kids.

I’ll likely treat Louis CK in the same manner. Distance myself from his work I once loved. I’ll catch myself remembering something he quipped and replace it with something more meaningful to me now.

It’s too bad. I really thought he was one of the good guys.

Ricky Gervais, don’t fail me now.

It is not my fault as a fan and it is not anyone else’s fault as a comic or co-writer or production company that believed in his work.

The fault lies squarely with Louis CK as it also does with the creepy neighbor.

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Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer, wife, and mom of three kids whose ages span two decades. Her work has appeared in the New York Times; Brain, Child Magazine; Scary Mommy and more. Her Cincinnati Family mom blog earned Best Overall Blog in the 2017 Ohio Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @WriterBonnie or on her website at WriterBonnie.com.

Mother’s Day is for Planting

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp Hosta PlantingMother’s Day means I can put flowers in the ground without fear of frost. It’s the commercial name given to my annual ok-to-plant day. It’s time for warmth and new growth. Any other reason to honor the day has been determined by someone else. Consumers are expected to spend $21.2 billion dollars in honor of Mother’s Day this year and I wonder if my plants are included in that total.

When I was seven I lost my mother to a car accident. It happened in February and I still had to make a Mother’s Day craft with the rest of my second-grade class in May. I was told she would still see it in heaven. That set the tone for the rest of my school days. Whether it was a craft to make or a poem to write, the day served only to twist the knife for what I didn’t have. I was the minority along with foster children and others who have lost. We are the ones you can’t plan around because then the majority suffers.

My Dad remarried when I was eight.  I got a stepmother. I love her very much. But that only made this Mother’s Day thing more confusing. Other children of blended families must have felt the same way. A stepparent in the mix is certainly more common than the death of a parent.  Am I supposed to celebrate her on this day? I wondered. Do I give her my homemade gift? If I do, am I betraying my other mom? It was a hard enough struggle to try and understand how I could love my stepmother and all of the opportunities that she brought to my life. It made me feel that if I appreciated my stepmother then somehow that meant that I was glad that my birth mother was gone. This prompted me to grieve my birth mother even more. I had to know that I still loved and missed her and in my adolescent head that meant that I must actively mourn her. Otherwise I’ve just forgotten about her, right?

As an adult I’ve wrapped my brain around it a little better. I understand that I am allowed to love them both. Now, I am a mother. I am both a bio-mom and a stepmom in a blended family. We’re a miss-matched perfect set of genetics and love on our second-time-around.

We don’t celebrate Mother’s or Father’s day. Knowing the stress it put on me as a child, the last thing I want to do is make my kids feel as if they are obligated on this specific day to honor me, analyze my title and place me in some pre-determined category. Who I am and what I mean to my children is as individual as they are. No. On Mother’s day we plant. We put flowers in dirt and let the commercial expectations of maternal celebrations pass us by. In mid-May there’s no danger of frost on the ground or in our hearts.

headshot for websoteBonnie Jean Feldkamp is a Freelance Writer on Parenting Topics. Find her on Twitter @WriterBonnie on Facebook.com/WriterBonnie and on Pinterest.com/WriterBonnie

Book Review: Kindness Wins- Accountability Rules

kindness-wins-final-cover copyI consider myself a pretty internet-savvy adult. I use it for work and for play. I even consult others on how to use social media for business promotion. Then I read Galit Breen’s book Kindness Wins. I felt pretty smug when I picked up the book, like I was going to read some common-sense strategies that any internet-savvy person would conclude for themselves. Boy was I wrong.

I am no stranger to cruel comments. Something about the anonymity of the internet just inspires fighting. I get that. I’ve seen that. I’ve tried to keep myself in check when it comes to my own responses to that.

What I didn’t know, hit me right in the face. In Kindness Wins, Breen showed me that I didn’t know how teens were using social media. Yes, they post a ton of selfies and yes they engage with their friends. However, there’s a big part of their social interaction that is tied to belonging. Belonging is #3 on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

kindness-wins-important-conversations-to-have-with-kids-pinThe need to belong is felt most strongly at preteen through high school. In the preteen years kids start to shift from their family’s influence being the most important to the influence of their friends holding the most weight. What Breen Shows us in her book is how this feeling of belonging transfers from face-to-face interactions at school, the notorious lunch table, and social gatherings, over to social media.

I was shocked to learn about how adolescents use pictures and tagging to include or exclude people from certain friend circles. The judgement in these posts are harsh. Much harsher, I think, because over the internet children are not faced with the emotional reactions of those who are left out. Without having to contend with the real and emotional consequences kids can lose their kindness filter. This is where parents come in.

In Kindness Wins, Breen walks the reader through many scenarios with real life examples
to share with children. She also encourages the parent to self check their own behavior and to talk with their peers about internet kindness. We don’t have to be a nasty culture of anonymous bullying.  It starts with us. Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair tells us in her book The Big Disconnect that by middle school, children need to know how to use technology appropriately. And it’s up to us, as parents, to teach children that appropriateness. With Breen’s Book we can do that with purpose. Kindness Wins is not only informative, but it also acts as a hands-on workbook for parents with real tips and examples we can apply to our conversations now. Buy it HERE

Breen is right. Kindness does matter. In the end, it’s all that matters. I love that Breen helps each of us take responsibility in the parts that we play. After all, we can only control our own behavior. Let’s start today.

For More about Galit Breen you can find her on TheseLittleWaves.Com

headshot for websoteBonnie Jean Feldkamp is a Freelance Writer on Parenting Topics. Find her on Twitter @WriterBonnie on Facebook.com/WriterBonnie and on Pinterest.com/WriterBonnie

Lullabies & Love Songs

Lullabies are love songs to our kids. We hear them in the Disney movies and on the Spotify Lullaby Playlist. We love the classics and who can resist this Alison Krauss version of Baby Mine?

But, We also love those pop songs that bend in our minds and make us think of our kids. The following songs are some of my favorite songs that make me choke up when they play on the radio and make me think of my kids.

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1. Kimya Dawson –  Loose Lips (From the Juno Sountrack)

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2. Coldplay – Fix You

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3. Pretenders – I’ll Stand By You

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4. I Hope you Dance

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5. Sugarland – Little Miss

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6. Pink – Please Don’t Leave Me- this one more reminds me of a teenager rebelling and singing for her parent.

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7. The Dixie Chicks – Yes, we all know they wrote God Speed and Lullaby for their babies. But before that, on their Wide Open Spaces Album, there was this song and it’s still one of my favorites. I’ll Take Care of You

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8. Jason Mraz – Beautiful Mess

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9. Fun – Carry On

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10. KT Tunstall – Heal Over