Jessica Rilling says she has always enjoyed photography; but she only started pursuing it professionally two years ago.

"I didn't go to school for (photography) and I'm just starting, so that means I make a lot of mistakes and it takes me more time for things," she says. "But I'm really holding onto this quote by Theodore Roosevelt that I think is pretty perfect for me right now: 'Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.' So here I am, with my scrawny equipment bag, doing what I can to give the places I care about photographs of a caliber better matching their character."



Rilling may be just starting in photography, but her appreciation for the place she's photographing is not new. A double-major in English literary studies and environmental studies at Iowa State University prepared her well for her first post-college job, working at the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

"I wrote grants, coordinated a national accreditation application process and promoted preservation and restoration of Iowa's natural places," she says.

"I'm so thrilled, of course, that my photo was voted for the cover of the 2013 Iowa Travel Guide," she adds. "But you know what I would rather talk about? Why the Turkey River and Motor Mill Historic Site are awesome. That's been the best part of this publicity, knowing that people are going to see the photo and go, 'That looks really great. Let's go there. Let's go make a connection to that special place. Let's spend our money locally and make Iowa memories.'"

For complete article, pick up a copy of Tuesday's Decorah Public Opinion.