Ten-year-old Nissa Ruth, of Signal Mountain, knew applying for a position with a national news magazine was going to be a long shot.
Like, a really long shot.
Her chance of success — at least, numerically — was about one in 125.
There were more than 1,500 applicants for 12 positions on the kids council to "The Week Junior," a youth-oriented offshoot of "The Week" news magazine. "The Week Junior" is aimed at children ages 8-14.
Despite the long odds, Nissa filled out an application anyway, and she later submitted a video, too.
In the application she talked about swimming for local club teams, reading 100 books for school and looking up to Emma "Grandma" Gatewood, the first woman to complete the Appalachian Trail alone in 1955.
Even when she was notified that she was among 24 finalists for the Junior Council, Nissa just crossed her fingers and hoped for the best. When the day for naming the winners came and went in December, her heart sank a little. Even a gentle turn-down would have been better than noting.
"The whole family was rooting for her," remembered Scott Ruth, Nissa's dad.
Then the next day at 10 a.m. an e-mail hit the family's inbox. Nissa had, indeed, been invited to become one of the 12 members of The Week Junior's Junior Council.
"I broke out in tears. I lost it," said Nissa's mom, Mitzi. "What a great opportunity. I was so happy for her."
Over the next few months, the 12 young members of the council met every other Thursday on Zoom to discuss timely topics and to get journalism training from newsmakers and editors.
"We would get assignments every week to work toward our article, which we did at the end of the whole thing," Nissa recalled.
She chose to write a piece about butterflies. She interviewed several experts, including Kim Bailey, owner of Milkweed Meadows Farm in Fruitland, North Carolina.
Her story outlined a four-step process for making a "puddler," a simple backyard oasis to help boost butterfly population, which is key to plant pollination.
The steps, Nissa reported, are: fill a small container with sand, add a pinch of salt, dampen the sand with water with a rock in the middle as a butterfly perch, place the puddler in a sunny spot and add water as needed to keep it moist.
Oh, then sit back and watch.
Before school was out, Nissa was recognized during chapel at St. Nicholas School. When the magazine hit, in June, extra copies were mailed so she could share them with friends and family. Her picture on the front was a bonus.
Even though the council has run its course, Nissa said some of the children continue to gather online every couple of weeks just because they enjoy one another's company.
"We are good friends," she said.
As for aspiring to be a professional journalist, Nissa said "maybe," but she's got plenty of time to decide on a career path.
"I've got a lot of things I like," she said. "I might be an architect or a veterinarian."
In any case, "writer for a national youth magazine" will be a nice entry on her resume when it comes time to apply for college.
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com.