Jodi Schneider McNamee loves writing and animals. photo provided
Jodi Schneider McNamee loves writing and animals. photo provided

The classic school assignment - "what I did this summer" - sent Jodi Schneider McNamee down the trail to becoming a writer. The satisfaction of telling a story well and getting a positive response feeds the creative soul.

While her vocation is as a credentialed creative arts teacher, she has long taken writing classes and written poetry. When she came to Sisters from California six years ago, she decided to take a bold step toward fulfilling her ambition of truly becoming a writer: She walked into The Nugget.

"A new town," she thought. "I'm going to walk in the newspaper and see if they'll let me write."

They did - and it worked out.

"I actually found that the newspaper is my place," she said. "I love that I get to write the good news. There's always something wonderful and awesome in the paper."

Schneider McNamee writes features - often focusing on the arts - and writes the regular "Paw Prints" column, and is developing a new food column.

Cooking is one of many creative outlets for the multi-talented artist.

"It's therapeutic for me in the kitchen," she said. "It's sort of like when I'm painting. It relaxes me."

Jodi continues to teach art, holding classes regularly in Sisters.

Much of Schneider McNamee's work - from writing to painting - revolves around her love for animals. All kinds of animals. As a painter she enjoys painting wildlife and as a reporter and a columnist, she enjoys enhancing people's relationships with their pets - and the pets' relationships with their people.

She feels that it is important to communicate on behalf of animals.

"They don't have a voice," she said.

While living in Diamond Bar, California, she trained as a veterinary technician.

"I was just thrown right into it, and I loved it," she said. "I just love being around animals. It's just so rewarding."

While she lived in the megalopolis of Southern California for 26 years, she says, "I was never, ever a city girl. I wanted to leave for so long."

Jodi grew up in New Jersey - but in a wild corner of the Garden State.

"I grew up in the woods," she said. "I grew up in a little one-horse town in New Jersey, right next to the border of upper New York state. I was like a female Huckleberry Finn."

When she came to Central Oregon, her Realtor steered her to the right spot for a woods-running artist, telling her, "You're an artist; you belong in Sisters."

Now, she's discovered that she's also a natural reporter.

"I love being a reporter," she said. "I've never written down the questions I ask people. I feel like it comes very naturally to me."

She's interested in people, and finds that covering the "good news" in Sisters gets her engaged in ways that she wouldn't ordinarily be.

"If I'm not working and I'm at an event I'm actually very shy," she said.

Nugget Editor in Chief Jim Cornelius relies heavily on Schneider McNamee's

work.

"Jodi's passion for her subjects comes through in her writing - and you can't fake that," he said. "She truly loves the work, and that communicates both to the subjects of her stories and columns and to the reader. She's always brimful of ideas, and she's willing to take on any story that I throw her way. I know if there's an animal anywhere around it, Jodi's going to be all over it."