Editor's note: This story is part of a series highlighting area high school graduating seniors.
From her many hiking experiences and dipnetting in Alaska to helping run a vineyard on her family farm and overseeing her school's newspaper, Cannon Falls senior Laura Johnson has already led a pretty interesting life.
Johnson will graduate on May 31 and will continue her education at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D., where she'll double major in anthropology and journalism.
Johnson is the only member of her family to be born in Alaska and described living in the state as "pretty wild."
Both of Johnson's parents are Minnesota born, but her father had the chance to go to either New Mexico or Alaska for work. They chose Alaska, where he would go around the state doing real estate appraisals, taking his daughter on some of the trips.
The family jumped at the chance to return to Minnesota when Johnson's uncle offered them a Cannon Falls property with a 200-year-old home on it.
Johnson and her father regularly work on the farm's vineyard, something Johnson admits she struggles with, saying she's not blessed with a green thumb.
Johnson describes it as "peaceful but methodical work." Johnson used that experience as a project for FFA, growing Marquette grapes for the past few years.
FFA is just one of her many clubs and activities - Johnson. Speech, National Honor Society, editor of the school newspaper, We The People and she plays in the school band. Add in her part-time job at the local bakery and involvement with her church, Johnson doesn't have a lot of downtime.
The soon-to-be graduate never turns down an opportunity or challenge, going back to her early days of playing the flute. As a fifth grader, Johnson wanted to play the trombone, but didn't know the correct term for the instrument. Instead, she said "flute."
Since that time, she's played the woodwind. She's twice played in the National FFA Band and hopes to continue playing in college. Johnson said getting to play with the National FFA Band opened her up to an experience she didn't necessarily have in Cannon Falls.
"It was just really cool to meet all of these kids, my age, who really enjoy their music and cared about progressing, but they're also super awesome people and cared about FFA too," Johnson said.
Johnson also plays the piccolo, but recalls how frustrated she became early on in her playing career. Johnson said the first few times she practiced playing the flute she couldn't even get a sound out. She almost quit, but finally made a sound.
Johnson loves that music isn't something that can necessarily be mastered. Rather, it's something that can always be improved, altered and experimented with.
In speech, Johnson started in the humourous category, but found it wasn't for her. After making a change to informative speaking, Johnson said she fell in love with the entire process from research, to refining, to ultimately delivering her speech.
Johnson admits she also loves researching, studying, editing and writing. That love will translate well to her future career exploration if she graduates with a degree in anthropology and journalism. Johnson said she doesn't want just a bachelor's degree either, looking at doctorate level degrees as well.
Bouncing around the world would be ideal for Johnson, saying her dream job would be documenting and excavating the Indus Valley, one of the world's most ancient civilizations, in South Asia. An ultra specific dream for a soon-to-be high school graduate could raise eyebrows, but Johnson said after taking multiple humanities courses and going on school trips to France and Italy have reinforced her ideas.
Uncovering ancient cycladic figurines, examining life hundreds of years ago, and having a better understanding of the world is where Johnson wants to be in the future.
But first, she'll enjoy her time in Sioux Falls.
Class of 2019
Cannon Falls Middle/High School Commencement
- 7 p.m. Sunday, May 31
- Cannon Falls Fieldhouse