A look behind the lens at St. George News reporter Jessi Bang

ST. GEORGE — If a picture paints a thousand words, then Jessi Bang is lugging around an armload of dictionaries. As a reporter for St. George News, it’s Bang’s job to bring to life the stories behind the unique businesses and artisans who call Southern Utah home.

Taking a peek behind the lens, a picture emerges of a reporter and outdoor adventure blogger. Read on to see some different angles of Bang’s work.

Photographs and memories

Like many people who call Southern Utah home, Bang is attracted to the endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration.

“For me, it’s always been way more about creating memories over things,” Bang said. “It could be rafting, paddle boarding, traveling or hiking.”’

Jessi Bang enjoys time with her two dogs at Pine Valley Reservoir in Pine Valley, Utah, Sept. 20, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Jessi Bang, St. George News

The climate in Southern Utah suits Bang, who takes advantage of the 300-plus days of sunshine this area gets each year. Bang has found this to be a great stomping ground not only for herself, but also for her two dogs. Buddy is a lab/border collie mix while Roz is a unique combination of wiener dog and pit bull.

Bang’s professional life began in a portrait studio. Leaving her childhood home in Emery County at the age of 18, Bang spent eight years living and working in California and Nevada. Bang launched her career in photography when she was still in college, eventually moving up the corporate ladder into a position where she was managing several studios in a variety of states.

There wasn’t a lot of training available at the portrait studio so Bang rolled up her sleeves and learned many of the skills she needed on her own. To this day, Bang relies on a lot of self-taught methods to build upon her skill sets. This includes writing, photography, website creation, graphics and social media marketing.

One other obstacle Bang had to overcome involved a debilitating form of anxiety. This meant getting out of her comfort zone and putting in the hard work to deal with the situation head-on.

“Mental health should not be a stigma,” Bang said. “The more willing we are to share, the more we can help others know they aren’t alone.”

Today, Bang is anxiety-free, gleefully roaming about Southern Utah on her numerous outdoor excursions.

“We are all just spiritual beings having a human experience and that journey looks different for all of us,” Bang said. “That’s why it’s so important to be kind.”

St. George Newsie

St. George News Reporter and Videographer Jessi Bang, St. George, Utah, June 2024 | Photo by Adele Park, St. George News

Bang joined the staff at St. George News in 2022, coming on board to work as a reporter and videographer focusing on small businesses, travel, arts and entertainment. Bang is known for her colorful, professionally produced videos showcasing the people and events she covers. The majority of the leads for Bang’s stories are self-generated through visits to local markets, coops and galleries.

“Every small business has an amazing story with a family behind it,” Bang said. “It really touches me because a lot of people take a leap from being comfortable in a career to taking this leap of faith and starting something for themselves.”

In addition to showcasing her talents as a videographer, Bang said her job at St. George News has enabled her to sharpen her writing craft as well. 

“The editors are there to help me improve upon the skill set I already have,” Bang said. “That’s really helped me grow as a writer and as a content creator.”

The only drawback to working at St. George News for Bang is knowing when it’s quitting time. Bang said she is so excited about her work and the people she meets that it is a challenge to put her work aside at the end of the day.

The Rambling Raccoon

Jessi Bang walks the area of Fire Lake Reservoir in Ivins, Utah, May 11, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Jessi Bang, St. George News

Everyone has a dream and Bang’s dream is to travel for free. To help accomplish this, Bang serves as a content creator for a platform she created called The Rambling Raccoon. Her endeavors began as a blog which quickly took off after the company, Adidas, invited her to be a part of its blogging community.

The Rambling Raccoon evolved to include several forms of social media such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube. Front and center on these platforms are beautifully shot videos depicting an array of outdoor adventures and ways others can join the fun.

“What I get to do is what I love,” Bang said. “I’m out hiking, traveling, adventuring and staying at really cool places.”

One of Bang’s favorite aspects of The Rambling Raccoon is working with county and state tourism boards.

“They create a custom itinerary for me to come out and explore different things and stay in certain places,” she said.

Travel itineraries work both ways for The Rambling Raccoon with Bang creating her own travel suggestions for her followers to use. These posts include suggestions for places to stay, dine and adventures offered in specific locations. To date, The Rambling Raccoon has more than 103,000 followers on Instagram.

Bang says The Rambling Raccoon has not only enabled her to explore and experience a wide range of outdoor opportunities, it has also helped her sharpen a number of valuable work skills.

“It has led me down the path of marketing,” Bang said. “I taught myself social media management and graphic design.”

What’s next for Bang? An international trip to Costa Rica later this year. Bang will be working with the Lands in Love Vegan Hotel. Proceeds from this establishment are transferred to a no-kill rescue center called Animal Love. Stay tuned for videos and content on The Rambling Raccoon.

Links for The Rambling Raccoon:

Website: www.theramblingraccoon.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/theramblingraccoon

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theramblingraccoon

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@theramblingraccoon

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.

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