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MHS graduate heading to Ireland for Fulbright Fellowship


Emily (Eggleston) Toner has been selected as a 2018-2019 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow. Emily, who is pictured here in Ireland will head to Ireland as part of this fellowship. She is a 2005 Marshalltown High School graduate.

Emily (Eggleston) Toner has been selected for a fellowship which will combine her interest in studying soil and her passion for telling stories.

The 2005 Marshalltown High School graduate will head to Ireland soon as part of her work as being selected as a 2018-2019 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow.

She will be there for nine months to share stories about a special type of carbon rich soil found in peat bogs, which are environmentally rich spaces in Ireland.

“I am thrilled to have the support of National Geographic and the Fulbright Program as I take questions about people’s relationship to soil to Ireland, where my focus will be telling stories about the how bogs shape Irish people and how they in turn shape their peat bogs,” Toner said. “I will refine my writing skills as well as try out new multimedia elements like mapping and audio stories.”

Emily became interested in soil while studying agriculture at Iowa State University. She later earned a master’s degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Aside from her interest in soil, telling stories has also been her passion dating back to her days at Marshalltown High School. She served as editor of the student newspaper, Pebbles, and enrolled in journalism classes from Steve Hanson at MHS.

“A shout out to journalism teacher Steve Hanson for his rigorous standards, which established my expectations early for how journalism should be carried out,” Toner said.

Hanson, who is now retired as a teacher, said Emily rose through the ranks quickly at Pebbles.

“Emily was obviously a very intelligent student who, more than anything else, really cared about the final product and the people around her,” Hanson said. “ We had some fantastic student writers over the years, but Emily sincerely cared about the process and the rest of the staff.  She worked tirelessly to get things right and was willing to help in any way possible whenever something went awry.”

Hanson said he is proud of Emily’s selection for this Fulbright Fellowship.

“To be awarded a Fulbright Fellowship is a gigantic honor,” Hanson said. “I’m confident that she has worked hard to put herself in this position and even more certain that she’ll continue to invest in the process moving forward.”

Toner also credits the two teachers she had at home to help her reach her accomplishments. Both of her parents, Susan and Mike Eggleston continue to teach in Marshalltown Schools.

“I never had them in a classroom, but the two most important Marshalltown teachers influencing my learning and building my confidence are my parents,” Toner said.

While telling stories of the soil is the major component of the fellowship, Emily sees this work continuing well beyond this assignment is over.

“I want to continue exploring and telling stories that prompt people to think about their connection to and influence on soil,” Toner said.

To view more information about the fellowship, see this link.