For a magazine that looks like it shrank in the wash, Minnesota Conservation Volunteer accommodates a surprising number of stories in its pint-size pages. Fitting all those words, though, requires tough decisions. Our writers generally include more than enough material in their first drafts—a nice, if frustrating, problem to have, as we often lose some really good stuff in the editing process. Here are a few such leftovers to remind us that there is always more to the story than what's on the page.
Deputy editor Keith Goetzman wrote the lively profile of adventure cyclist Alexandera Houchin, a quote machine whom we could have written a book about. As Goetzman reports, ultra-distance racers like Houchin often eat fast food and gas station snacks while competing—not because they want to, but because they're the only options. One detail that didn't make the cut is Houchin's candy bar obsession. During epic slogs like the 2,745-mile Tour Divide, she eats a dozen candy bars a day, her favorites being Snickers and Milky Way Midnights. "It's disgusting the amount you'll eat [when racing]," she told Goetzman. "Like, I spent $27 at McDonald's one time and ate everything. And $27 of McDonald's is a lot of food."
Houchin touched on loftier topics as well, including her Ojibwe identity and her desire to become a dentist in Cloquet, where she lives on the Fond du Lac Reservation. This outtake shows how deeply she thinks about life outside of cycling: "It's really important for me to understand my history. And then also understanding American Indian history—how it relates to the federal government. There's a lot of room under the guise of self-determination for making really big impacts in Indian country with oral hygiene and dental health. . . . The dental health disparities in native populations versus the general public are kind of astronomical."
Nearly every story we assign has a gem or two that's lost along the way. A draft of Hannah Texler's biosurvey feature mentioned her early interest in conservation. We cut the bit for space, but I'm always curious how people arrive at their career, so here's Texler, a DNR plant ecologist, on what inspired her life in science: "This is the kind of job I had been dreaming about and working toward since high school, when I first learned about biodiversity from a chance reading of a Nature Conservancy magazine that my parents had brought home." (She gets bonus points for showing how inspiring nature magazines can be.)
In Dispatch, Ryan Rodgers follows a group of Minneapolis eighth-graders on a winter field trip to Theodore Wirth Regional Park. The students ice fished, snowshoed, and cross-country skied, many for the first time. They came from a variety of backgrounds, with amazing stories that we just couldn't fit on the page—like the kid who told Rodgers he had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone and was briefly detained before moving to Minnesota to live with family.
I wish I could highlight other leftovers, but I've run out of space. Please pour one out for the lost heroes of the cutting room floor. Without their sacrifice, we wouldn't have the tight, well-told narratives that are a signature of the Volunteer.
Chris Clayton, editor in chief