Jena Brooker’s Field Notes

Every week in the climate, science, social justice, and environmental spaces is as diverse as Uproot’s membership. Field Notes are snapshots of the varied experiences that make our community so vibrant. 

Field Correspondent

Name: Jena Brooker

Pronouns: she/her

Location: Detroit, MI

Job description: I am an environmental reporter covering everything from science to pollution to food and agriculture.

Years of experience in your job: 3+

Social media handles: @j_e_n_a_b on Twitter

One word to describe your week: Busy!

A Week in the Life


I started my day knocking on the doors of homeowners who live directly across from a warehouse with heavy truck traffic for a feature story I’m working on with a reporter at another local media outlet, Outlier Media. 

Then we took a new co-worker out for lunch to an Afro-Caribbean restaurant nearby, and I worked on my traffic and environmental justice story for the rest of the day.

Image of warehouse with large trucks across the street from residential houses.
I went door-knocking in an east-side Detroit neighborhood. The houses are across from a warehouse and I wanted to speak with residents about how heavy truck traffic to and from the warehouse impacts them. This picture shows close the warehouse (left) is to the homes (right).


I started the morning with a short radio two-way on an article I wrote about how climate change is making allergies worse in Detroit and in Michigan. I work on my truck story again and do preliminary research for a few other articles I’m working on. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have a weightlifting class that I always look forward to after work.


I interview people in person for a story I’m working on about reclaiming Earth Day and another story about environmental enforcement. We finalize edits on the truck story and get it ready to publish the next day. I go to a food pop-up in the evening that I plan to write a story on. I am increasingly adding food to my beat because it’s 100% tied to the environment.

Dishes of Moroccon food.
I went to a Moroccan restaurant, Saffron De Twah, in Detroit that reuses food scraps from the kitchen to make food to prevent the scraps from ending up in a landfill and creating greenhouse gas emissions. The chef also has a community fridge he uses to offer free meals to the community to address food insecurity.


I get to the office early to respond to emails and set up interviews before our editorial meeting from 10-12. It’s always a fun time, and good to see the team in person. As an added bonus, we work at a co-working space that is really beautiful and fun to be at! After the meeting, I try and get my daily out on the food pop-up, and I take a walk! I usually try to take a few walks throughout the day, but sometimes it’s hard because it’s so busy!

Image of coworking space with yellow couches, an exposed brick wall, and filming equipment.
A view of the coworking office I work out of. On this day, I was filming a segment for local public television on the removal of a highway in Detroit, I-375.


I’m trying to wrap up any stories or tasks that didn’t get finished earlier in the week, like filing FOIAs. I also have a call for one of the science reporting fellowships I am a part of, and it has me energized about a new way to distribute my story that I had never thought about before. (Shoutout to Maya Miller at ProPublica. I’m a part of two fellowships right now for data and science reporting, and they have been incredibly helpful.)

Image of outdoor space with people gathered around a raised garden bed with bright blue borders.
I went to a cultural center in Detroit that is a co-working space for artists and a gallery, ZAB Cultural Collective. 

Saturday and Sunday: 

My week is really busy and involves a lot of in-person interaction, which I feel can be tiring sometimes, so I try and take it easy on the weekends and avoid opening my laptop if I can help it. I go on nature walks, bike around town, hang out with friends, and go to a lot of food pop-ups and events. I also love to bake! I’ve been gluten-free baking a lot, and it’s basic, but these brown butter chocolate chip cookies came out amazing!!

Image of a plate of chocolate chip cookies.
Over the weekend, I made brown butter chocolate chip cookies (gluten-free), and they were amazing!

From the Wild

What hobby do you keep thinking about but haven’t picked up yet?

I keep trying to learn to play the piano and tennis!

What’s your current beverage of choice?

Basic again, but an iced coffee drink.

What is one thing you always do when visiting somewhere new?

Eat, eat, eat.

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