Austin Lammers, a Rapid City-native interning at the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, has been awarded the annual Peg Sagen Memorial Scholarship from the Rapid City Journal.

A senior at the University of South Dakota, Lammers, 21, began a 10-week internship with the Argus newsroom on May 6. 

“I’ve learned that it’s quick work. And it’s honest work — everyone here is really good at what they do” he told the Journal.

The $1,000 academic scholarship is funded through the Lee Enterprises Foundation and relies on initial funding from community members who wanted to preserve the legacy of Sagen, a former editor of the Journal who died of ovarian cancer in August 2006. Previously, the scholarship process was administered by the late Journal courts reporter Andrea J. Cook, who died of ovarian cancer in April 2016.

Speaking by phone Friday, Lammers said he was grateful to be awarded the scholarship.

Since December 2018, Lammers has served as editor-in-chief of the Volante, USD's student newspaper, where he previously held the title of sports editor. He said Friday that his internship at the Argus was his first with a professional newspaper.

At the Argus, he has reported on breaking news, business openings and agricultural issues, among other things. For one story, he interviewed comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short ahead of their performance in Sioux Falls.

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“That day I was doing a farming story,” he said. “I was actually on a dirt road in rural Minnesota, and I got a call from Los Angeles."

As a whole, Lammers said the members of the Argus newsroom put in effort to support and mentor him. He reserved particular praise for Geoff Sheehy, his teacher at Central High School who inspired him to pursue writing.

At Sheehy's encouragement, Lammers joined Central's student newspaper and served as its editor-in-chief during his junior and senior years.

Lammers' internship with the Argus concludes next week. His term as editor-in-chief of the Volante expires in December though he said he will continue to work for the paper afterward.

Although he said he is unsure of his plans after graduation, Lammers said he plans to continue writing even if it's for a different kind of outlet than a newspaper.

"I just want to keep writing. That’s all I really care to do,” he said.

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— Contact Matthew Guerry at matthew.guerry@rapidcityjournal.com

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