The Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship at Boyd’s Station
Boyd’s Station awards annually the $3,000 Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship to a current college student or recent graduate with a talent for reporting and writing to provide a unique, immersive journalism fellowship program living and reporting from rural Harrison County, Kentucky.
The Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellow is awarded a $3,000 fellowship and is immediately immersed into Harrison County, Kentucky WITHOUT the worry of finding housing and paying rent.
You can find out more and apply directly to the program here: https://www.boydsstation.org/withers-fellowship
An innovative alternative to the traditional media internship opportunity allowing for an individual to explore and document while not being constrained by daily deadlines.
Freedom to find essays and stories that you are passionate to explore while also collaborating with Pulitzer Prize-winning editors from The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Boyd’s Station Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship journalism partner, on a single project during the residence.
Your words, images and stories become part of the larger historical archive documenting this single community.
Unlike most newspaper internships, where students spend their summer cranking out daily news stories, the Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship allows writers to chart their own course as they cover a centuries-old community in the midst of change. The fellow is responsible for producing multiple feature stories that highlight an underrepresented corner of America while learning from an award-winning team of writing mentors and editors.
For 12 weeks, the fellow lives at Boyd’s Station, an historic family farm in Boyd, Kentucky, works out of the Boyd’s Station Gallery in downtown Cynthiana, Kentucky and quickly becomes entwined into the fabric of this small, close-knit community.
The fellowship is directed by Alan Gomez, a former bureau chief and foreign correspondent at USA Today, and is supported by a team of editors, mentors and former Boyd’s Station fellows who remain a part of the program family. That team helps each fellow craft their own summer, identify stories, report them, write them, edit them and get them published.
Boyd’s Station has established relationships with several publication outlets, including the Cynthiana Democrat, American Reportage, Postindustrial and the Cincinnati Enquirer, but there are no restrictions on where the stories are published.
The fellow shares a home with a student photographer, the recipient of the Reinke Grant for Visual Storytelling, and the duo can collaborate on projects together, if they choose. Their work also becomes part of an ever-expanding historical archive created by Boyd’s Station that documents this unique community.
IS THERE A FEE TO APPLY FOR THIS FELLOWSHIP?
There is NO fee to apply.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO APPLY?
Candidates must be college juniors, seniors, recent graduates or graduate students. They must be 21 years of age or older during the time of the fellowship – they can be 20 when they apply but must be 21 by the time the fellowship begins. Candidates must be enrolled in a journalism or communications program, or a related degree program. Previous newspaper journalism internships and/or experience as a journalist on a college newspaper are preferred, but not mandatory.
Most importantly, candidates must be committed to a career in journalism.
WHAT KIND OF HOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION ARE AVAILABLE?
The Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship recipient will live in a house at Boyd’s Station FOR FREE. They will share the home with a student photographer, the recipient of Reinke Grant for Visual Storytelling, as well as two Boyd’s Station staff members. Each fellow will have their own room and have access to a shared bathroom, kitchen and living room. The home is WiFi-enabled (cell service can occasionally be spotty).
Transportation in and around Harrison County is the sole responsibility of each fellow. In such a rural community, there is no public transportation, so a car, valid driver’s license and insurance are required.
ARE FELLOWS PAID?
The fellow will receive a $3,000 fellowship to help pay for food, living expenses and program expenses. They will also be reimbursed for the cost of fuel while reporting from Harrison County. The Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship recipient receives free rent for the summer and working space at the Boyd’s Station Gallery in downtown Cynthiana.
Fellows are responsible for bringing their own car to Boyd’s Station and their own computer to work on. They are also responsible for their own meals.
WHAT ABOUT COLLEGE CREDIT?
Boyd’s Station is happy to work with a fellow’s college or university to help them receive college credits for their work. We can prepare any summaries, descriptions, clips or other supporting documentation to try to fulfill the requirements of any school.
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE TO APPLY?
The application window for 2022 will open in October of 2021 and the deadline is Monday, January 10, 2022.
WHEN SHOULD THE RECIPIENT BE IN HARRISON COUNTY?
The fellowship will run for 12 consecutive weeks from May to August. The exact timing of this fellowship is determined by the fellow and program director to best fit the fellow’s schedule, but each fellow is expected to be in Kentucky throughout the 12 weeks. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis for family emergencies or other personal matters.
WHAT DOES EACH FELLOW NEED TO BRING WITH THEM?
If you are selected for the fellowship, you will need the following:
- A car, and valid driver’s license and insurance.
- A personal computer.
- Personal recording devices and/or photography gear (if desired).
- Clothes and shoes that work on a farm. While fellows will spend a lot of time in downtown Cynthiana and can work indoors, it’s expected – and encouraged – that they spend as much time as possible immersing themselves in the community, which means a lot of time on farms and ranches, cow patties included. A good pair of hiking/work boots is highly recommended.
- Health insurance is recommended, but not required.
WHAT KIND OF HOURS WILL THE WRITER BE WORKING?
This is not a traditional internship where a writer is expected to clock in and out at set hours each day. The expectation is that the fellow is self-motivated, will put in a full 40 hours each week and accomplish their goals. It’s up to each fellow to figure out if that means working 9-5 or crafting their own schedule.
WHAT WILL THE MARY WITHERS RURAL WRITING FELLOW LEARN?
This project is geared towards documenting the people and places of Harrison County, Kentucky while reporting on issues that resonate across the nation.
WHO WILL MANAGE WHAT THE FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENT DOES?
The Boyd’s Station Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship program is directed by Alan Gomez, a former bureau chief and foreign correspondent at USA Today. He will supervise the fellow’s program and work hand in hand with the fellow to conceive each story, prepare a reporting plan, guide the reporting and edit each story. Alan resides in Miami, so fellows communicate with him through weekly video calls and frequent emails.
But that’s just part of the experience. The founder and director of Boyd’s Station is Jack Gruber, a prize-winning photographer for USA Today who will be on-site frequently and runs the multiple programs operating out of Boyd’s Station. Margaret Heltzel, a former Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship recipient, has joined the staff and will be living on-site. She can help with day-to-day advice on how to live, report and write while in Kentucky.
Boyd’s Station also has an established relationship with editors at the Cincinnati Enquirer, who may assign a story to the Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship recipient and assist them through the reporting, writing and editing process. Additionally, other experienced writers and editors will be made available to each fellow to provide training and assistance.
WHO OWNS THE COPYRIGHT TO THE WORK CREATED?
The WRITER. One of the unique things about this fellowship is that any and all work created by the writer will be owned, and the copyright retained, by that fellow. The writer has the right to market or sell any of the literary work for personal gain editorially or commercially as long as the work and any photograph or video images sold commercially have proper documentation and release from subjects.
The complete collection of words, creative works, and images produced during the fellowship period DO become part of the overall historical archive and collection of the Boyd’s Station archive. The fellow must grant Boyd’s Station the right, in perpetuity, to use any of the work created during the fellowship period in promotion, exhibits and for educational purposes determined by Boyd’s Station without additional compensation. Boyd’s Station agrees not to sell or provide creative work or images for commercial gain without expressed written consent and agreement of the fellow.
MARY WITHERS, BOYD’S STATION | FOUNDING BOARD OF DIRECTOR
The Mary Withers Rural Writing Fellowship was established to honor life-long Boyd, Kentucky resident Mary Withers.
Mary Elizabeth Withers, 69, passed away in 2018. A life-long Harrison County resident, Mary was instrumental in the founding of Boyd’s Station serving as one of the founding board of directors. Mary was a passionate supporter of the historic Boyd Methodist Church, the arts, education and Harrison County, Kentucky. She is truly missed.