The Backpack Journalism program is a competitive, donor-funded international reporting trip for four of the best students in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. The trip generally takes place over Spring Break.

This March, four students will travel with journalism instructor Alison Boggs to Colonia, Uruguay, a community about two hours west of the capital, Montevideo. They will report on a married couple — both WSU graduates — who have created an experiential learning farm focused on teaching student groups about sustainability, both in lifestyle and agricultural practices.

The students also will seek stories that advance the conversation on sustainability and are planning stories on: the cattle industry and the idea of sequestering carbon through rotational grazing; two construction projects that use recycled and upcycled materials; the idea of a ‘sharing economy,’ (similar to a barter system); and any other interesting stories that arise. They also plan an in-depth profile on the couple and their family.

The students intend to blog about their experiences throughout this experience. Please follow our blog to learn more about the 2020 Backpack Journalism expedition.


Meet the students:


Celeste Harms


Celeste HeadshotMy name is Celeste Harms and I am a senior majoring in journalism and media production with an emphasis in broadcast news and a minor in business administration. Outside of my coursework for the Murrow College, I’m involved in Cable 8 Productions and Greek life.

I am so excited for the opportunity to be a part of the Backpack Journalism team this year! I learned about this program as a senior in high school and pursuing it was one of the reasons I decided to attend WSU, so this is a dream come true.

I’m looking forward to exploring Uruguay with the team, as well as getting to know community members and sharing their stories through human-interest pieces. I love interviewing people and I think there’s something special about being able to learn about their lives and experiences.

Stories with emotion and sincerity always feel the most powerful, captivate the audience, and in my opinion, are the most important to share. I can’t wait to meet fascinating people, learn more about Uruguay’s agriculture practices, political system, and culture, and share it all with everyone through this blog!


Angelica Relente


Angelica HeadshotI’m Angelica, and I’m a junior multimedia journalism major. I’m from Oahu, Hawaii, and until this day, I still question how I ended up in eastern Washington.

I’ve been involved with The Daily Evergreen since the first semester of my freshman year and held multiple roles in the newsroom. I’m currently a news reporter, but I’ve been the news editor as well as a layout editor in the past.

The Backpack Journalism Program is something I’ve been meaning to experience ever since I heard about it in my freshman year. Traveling abroad is cool but reporting on things abroad sounds even better.

One of the things I’m looking forward to is immersing myself in a culture different from mine while doing the thing that I enjoy most, which is reporting.

Sustainability isn’t something new, but rather, something that a lot of people talk about but don’t really enforce. I didn’t know that sustainability practices in Uruguay were as common as they are until I started researching it.

For instance, I’ve never heard of a school entirely made of recycled materials such as rubber tires and plastic bottles. Uruguay’s sustainability practices are something other         countries could and should probably consider if they’re genuinely worried about reducing their carbon footprint. I hope the materials my group and I produce from this trip would enlighten some, if not all, individuals who are looking for a more sustainable lifestyle.

Noah Schmick


Noah HeadshotHello, my name is Noah Schmick and I am a senior majoring in broadcast news and minoring in sport management. I grew up in Spokane, Washington, attended Freeman High School, and was raised in a big Cougar sports family going to football and basketball games as a kid all the way up until I enrolled at Washington State. I interned this summer with KHQ-TV and SWX Right Now and did public address announcing for the Spokane Shadow Men’s and Women’s first teams. My passion and most of my work is focused on sports broadcasting as I have done play-by-play for various WSU sports teams and I currently run a sports talk show that is going on its eighth and final semester.

I am very excited to go on this backpack journalism trip to Uruguay as this will be my first time leaving the country. I mostly am intrigued to find out about the cultural differences between Uruguay and the United States as well as to be able to take what I have learned at WSU and apply it to a real-world situation.

I am confident we can produce several intriguing stories and be flexible to take on even more once we get down there and find ones that arise in our encounters. I am excited to meet with people in a foreign country and hear their stories that can ultimately shape who I will become as a person in life as well as in a journalistic profession. I am so thankful for this awesome opportunity and cannot wait for what lies ahead!


Jakob Thorington


Jakob HeadshotI’m Jakob Thorington. I’m a senior journalism and media production student, a reporter at The Daily Evergreen and the copy chief at the Evergreen.

I am beyond excited for this spring break and the Backpack Journalism trip to Uruguay. This will be my first true experience outside the United States and with that comes some nervousness but I’m thrilled nonetheless.

My biggest hope for the trip is to engage with the people we interact with and really be able to tell their stories in what is bound to be just a different type of experience than what we’re accustomed to in the U.S.

In short, I hope to produce content that is held onto and saved by the people we cover for the rest of their lives, and that they think fondly when they remember us.