In March 2014, Hannah Bauman joined the American Botanical Council (ABC) staff as the new assistant editor of HerbalGram. Her diverse academic interests, editing experience, and passion for writing make her particularly well-suited for the ABC editorial department.
A native of The Woodlands, Texas, Bauman graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio in 2010 with a degree in Ancient Mediterranean Studies with a focus on maritime archeology. “I’m an enormous nerd,” she said. “It was really one of those things where I studied it because I liked it, not because I thought it would translate to an immediate career after college.”
After briefly contemplating a future in academia, Bauman decided to use her writing- and research-intensive education to pursue a career in writing or editing. “I really wanted to get a job as an editor or as a writer, or both,” she said. “So now that I’m here, I’m very happy.”
Still, she maintains a sense of humor about her somewhat esoteric undergraduate area of study. “I’ve been spending all of my time since graduation trying to convince people that my background is in fact applicable to other things,” Bauman joked.
After graduating from Trinity, Bauman worked as a freelance copy editor and, later, as a technical editor for Texas Education Service Center Region 13 where she worked on a curriculum management project. She credits both her liberal arts education and her work experience for preparing her for her new position in the ABC editorial department.
“Region 13 is very deadline-oriented, so I was used to working within a time limit and getting things done. The researching and more academic style of writing, and tailoring your message to a specific audience, that was a lot of my undergrad,” she said.
As the assistant editor of HerbalGram, Bauman manages the book reviews section and researches and writes articles for HerbalGram, ABC’s monthly newsletter HerbalEGram (HEG), and other ABC publications.
After working in an office environment she described as “an underground cube farm,” Bauman said the historic Case Mill Homestead that serves as ABC’s headquarters made the position even more appealing.
“It really seemed too awesome to be true,” she said. “‘We’re a small nonprofit and we work in this beautiful location with all of these gardens… and you get to do what you’ve always wanted to do.’ I was like, ‘Stop it, …you’ve sold me.’”
Despite limited experience with magazine journalism, Bauman has adapted quickly and is eager to take on new tasks. “I showed up, put my stuff down on my first day, and [HerbalGram Managing Editor] Ash [Lindstrom] says, ‘All right, now you have to go interview somebody,’” Bauman recalled. “‘Okay, I can do that; let’s do it.’”
In her first few months with HerbalGram, Bauman already has written more than half a dozen obituaries — an unfortunately and uncommonly high number for the publication — for notable figures from various areas of the herb medicinal plant community. “These are all people that have done really interesting things, and I get to talk to people that knew them and learn about their life,” she said. “It actually is kind of a nice introduction to the botanical medicine community. I get to learn [about] all of the different things that people can do within it… so it’s been very educational.”
In her free time, Bauman enjoys yoga and hiking and is actively involved in Texas Renaissance festivals, including the Sherwood Forest Faire and Texas Renaissance Festival.
Bauman, an avid reader and aspiring novelist, also is a member of an Austin-area writers group, which she first discovered through National Novel Writers Month — an annual challenge for authors to complete 50,000 words in just one month. “I’ve always enjoyed creative writing,” she said. “I have a couple of finished manuscripts that absolutely nobody is interested in, but I finished them, so it makes me happy.”
So far at ABC, Bauman has written about a diverse range of topics from gooseberry (Ribes echinellum, Grossulariaceae) conservation efforts in Florida to a review of recent scientific studies on the health benefits of strawberries (Fragaria vesca, Rosaceae). Appearing in the April 2014 issue of HEG, the “Science of Strawberries” article was her first published piece as HerbalGram assistant editor.
“After that HEG went out, I of course immediately sent it to everybody I ever had passing contact with, and my parents sent me a box of chocolate-covered strawberries,” she said. “They are very involved, very supportive. They’re so happy for me.”
Bauman — no stranger to relatively unconventional areas of study — says she looks forward to learning more about herbal medicine-related topics and her future with the education nonprofit.