Program Description

The Illinois Humanities Engagement Fellowship aims to foster high-quality investigative journalism that’s driven by public engagement with stakeholder communities throughout Illinois. During a 12-month residency at the Champaign, IL-based Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, our fellow will work to incorporate the voices, experiences and perspectives of Illinois residents more deeply into the Center’s work. Through a series of listening events, public conversations, and other activities, our fellow’s goal is to work with Illinoisans to investigate issues that matter to them.

2019 Fellow

Claire Hettinger is a 2017 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and most recently was an award-winning reporter for the Decatur Herald & Review and the Champaign News-Gazette. She is a native of central Illinois and with a family history deeply rooted in farming. She will spend her term at the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting reporting on instances where the interests of ground-level farm workers diverge from those of the large agricultural corporations they rely on.

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting - MCIR - logoThe Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is an independent, nonprofit newsroom devoted to educating the public about crucial issues in the Midwest with a special focus on agribusiness and related topics such as government programs, environment and energy.

Started in 2009 by journalist Mike Sherry, the Center provides training and education for students, professional journalists and citizens to better understand agribusiness and its impact locally, regionally and globally. The Center also uses both traditional and innovative digital tools and techniques to analyze data about agribusiness and distribute the results.

Previous Fellows

Anna Casey is a graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, IL, and received her master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in the spring of 2017. Her bylines have appeared in Kaiser Health News and Refinery29 News, as well as local outlets. She was an intern at Austin’s NPR affiliate, where she produced stories for Texas Standard, a daily news program that airs across the state. Prior to graduate school, Anna served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and later worked at the Livestrong Foundation in Austin.  During graduate school, Anna served as an editorial assistant at the Center for News Excellence and Engagement.  Anna is eager to return to the Midwest to collaborate with community members to produce journalism that serves them and spotlights issues for a national audience.

Past Events

Crop-Up Newsroom II
Saturday, June 2, 2 p.m.
Andy Mae’s Ice Cream Shoppe
17143 E. 2750 North Road, Bismark, IL

Crop-Up Newsroom I
Thursday, May 31, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Flesor’s Candy Kitchen
101 W. Sale St., Tuscola, IL

Off-Target: a community conversation about dicamba
Thursday, February 22nd, 7:00PM
Champaign Public Library
200 W. Green St., Champaign, IL

End of Harvest Community Breakfast
Tuesday, November 28th, 2017, 7:30AM
Flesor’s Candy Kitchen
101 W. Sale St., Tuscola, IL

Uncharted Waters: a community conversation around water use
Thursday, August 24th, 2017, 7PM
Champaign Public Library
200 W. Green St., Champaign, IL

Community Listening Posts
Saturday, August 5th and Saturday, August 12th, 2017
Urbana Farmers Market
401 S. Vine St., Urbana, IL

Dinner and Docs with Investigate Midwest
A Screening and Panel Discussion of Rotten: Big Bird (a Netflix film)
Tuesday, June 18, 2019, 6 PM
The City Center
505 S. Chestnut St., Champaign, IL

Photo courtesy of Darrell Hoemann/The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting