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Q&A: Our newest contributor

Clay and Milk

After writing a few stories we felt like we should introduce our latest contributor to the Clay & Milk network.

Jess Lynk, a senior journalism student at Drake University, will have a reoccurring role moving forward with Clay & Milk. Lynk will cover issues at the state level and tell stories from Iowa’s tech, startup and art communities.

Lynk grew up just outside of Chicago and moved to Des Moines for school. She will graduate this Spring. To read what Lynk has contributed to Clay & Milk, click here.

Our Q&A is below:

Why Drake and Des Moines?

JL: Born and raised in Illinois, I always thought Iowa was our boring next door neighbor. But when I started looking at colleges, Des Moines caught my eye. The idea of going to college in a city that exists without the college was really attractive to me. I also saw the rapid growth of the Des Moines as an amazing opportunity. Now, I have been here since 2014 and can say Des Moines impresses me every day.

Have you enjoyed it?

JL: I know everyone says this about their college, but there is something about Drake University. Drake is full of opportunity, despite its size. The professors genuinely care if you succeed and they position you to do so. Being in Des Moines gave me the opportunity for real-world experience. One of those experiences is the Caucus. During Caucus season, Des Moines becomes the center of the country, and for a journalism major interested in politics that was really attractive.


What’s been your favorite part of going to school in Des Moines?

JL: Honestly, the people I’ve met. People in Des Moines are different than most people I have interacted with. They genuinely care about politics and their community.  They show up and share their opinion. They care about this city and what happens to it. They show up for school board meetings, town halls, protests and anything and everything else. They want to make a difference, which makes being in Des Moines so much better. This is what I think makes the Iowa Caucus unique and why it will always be first. Iowans care enough to help weed out politicians.

What got you into journalism?

JL: I signed-up for my first journalism class when I was 14.  Luckily for me, my high school invested in its journalism program. There, I met my (now) mentor who showed me how important journalism is to a democracy and to the world, really. Now, seven years later, I’m still in the field.

What areas do you like to cover? Policy/politics? Education? Ag?

JL: Issues that impact real people.

Whether that be in the political or technology space, I love talking to people about their story. This normally lends itself to policy news really well but almost every topic has a real impact on a lot of people and I love to find them. Nowadays, I am really passionate about telling the stories of women, especially those who are underrepresented. I am also really passionate about covering stories about communities that come together.

Sometimes this is a tech community lifting up a startup other times this is a community rallying around someone to get them elected.

What experience do you have with the tech and startup community here in Des Moines?

JL: I don’t have much, but with each new story I cover for Clay & Milk, I learn so much more. I have learned so much about tax credits in the past few weeks. Before starting here though, I did understand the growth that the tech and startup community was and is experiencing, and it’s been cool to see that up close.

Did you know there’s that much happening?

JL: Yes! There is always so much to cover and look for. There are always, always, always more stories to tell, which makes me excited every day. It can be hard to keep up, but the fast-paced cycle keeps me moving and interested always.

Any interest in the arts?

JL: As someone who grew up in a creative space, I love the arts. I have so much respect for people who take nothing and make it into something beautiful. Whether that is a painting or a song or some other creative outlet, it is always so inspiring to cover someone who is doing something they love.

What should Clay & Milk readers know about you as a reporter?

JL: As a reporter, I put myself in others’ shoes. I ask questions that I believe matter to everyone. Through my reporting, I hope to best to show why every issue matters, even if it’s not to you at that moment.

1 Comment

  • John Salkeld
    Posted March 1, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Congratulations, Jess – – this was a nice article!

Comments are closed.

Q&A: Our newest contributor | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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