NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - For East Texans, KTRE wouldn't be KTRE without the storytelling of veteran reporter Donna McCollum.
For nearly 40 years, McCollum has provided East Texans with their latest news as their Nacogdoches reporter.
In the 1970s, the Houston-native was hired out of school and even though her first day was a little bumpy she quickly became familiar with her new hometown of Nacogdoches.
"I remember it was my very first day of work. I was in the KTRE car driving up and down North Street looking for a story. I went through the SFA campus the wrong way and got pulled over by the cops, I've never made that mistake again," McCollum said.
McCollum, who started at KTRE back in 1977, has not only witnessed the various changes around the East Texas area, but she's also seen the evolution of broadcast journalism: from film to tapes to now the dominating digital media. "It's just instantaneous. I'm still learning every single day, and I welcome the change," McCollum said.
In her 38 years with KTRE, McCollum has covered hundreds of stories affecting the East Texas community.
However, when it comes to the one story that had the biggest impact on her, she says it was the morning of February 1, 2003. That's when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart in the skies of Deep East Texas.
"It was an opportunity to see how people can pull together," McCollum said. "Those were all stories that were very compelling. They had all the elements of a news story, but aside from that, it was a story that showed how people can pull together in a hard situation, a difficult situation, and a sad situation, but they can all pull together for a common good."
In her time at KTRE, she's not only had a stellar broadcasting career but made East Texas her home - starting and raising her family in the Pineywoods.
McCollum said one reason she made Nacogdoches her home has been the people who make up this part of the state.
"I would describe them as very down to earth; they become your friend and they trust you," Mccollum said. "Also, they are hard workers. I don't think some people realize the hard work some East Texans put in, and its not always easy work."
As a way to thank McCollum for her outstanding work in the broadcasting field, the Texas Farm Bureau has selected her as one of the three Texas journalists to receive the Excellence in Journalism Award.
KTRE Fall intern Hunter Sowards contributed to this story.