Pat Blank

All Things Considered Host

Pat Blank has been with Iowa Public Radio for 24 years. She was hired as a reporter and eventually was chosen to host Morning Edition at the Cedar Falls studios in 1986.  She has been host of All Things Considered since 1995. She is a nationally award winning reporter who has also worked in commercial radio and television. Pat has served as a part-time instructor at Wartburg College and at the University of Northern Iowa where she teaches journalism classes.  She is on the Board of Control for UNI’s student run radio station KULT. She is currently serving a second term on the  Iowa Archives of Broadcasting National Advisory Board.

Pat has a bachelor’s degree in radio-television broadcasting from the University of Northern Iowa.

Pat's favorite public radio program is This American Life.

Ways To Connect

Matt Whitaker for U.S. Senate

Read this candidate profile of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker. He was interviewed as part of IPR's 2014 Primary Voter Guide series.

Read this candidate profile of 1st District Democratic candidate Monica Vernon. She was interviewed as part of IPR's 2014 Primary Voter Guide series.

IPR's Pat Blank

  This week's crop report from the USDA shows  Iowa farmers spent very little time in the field planting corn last week. Only 23 percent of the expected corn acreage is in the ground. That's nine days ahead of last year but 10 days later than the five year average. The cool wet spring is improving soil moisture reserves with only two percent of the state's topsoil now considered short of moisture.

From Russia with Love

Apr 22, 2014
IPR's Tony Dehner

  A group of ten Russian journalism students visited the Iowa Public Radio studios in Cedar Falls Tuesday. They are part of an exchange program with Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo. The project is known as Challenge Our Bias, Midwest-Russian Alliance on Dialogue and Education or COMRADE. The Russian  students are on a whirlwind tour of Iowa with stops at media outlets in Waterloo, Iowa City and Des Moines.

Fish Farm

Apr 17, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

One of Iowa's only Aquaponics facilities is marketing locally grown, chemical free vegetables and fish raised in a sustainable manner and available year round. All Seasons Harvest is located just north of Cedar Falls and grows lettuce, kale, herbs and Tilapia fish in a six thousand square foot greenhouse.  

Courtesy photo

Something happened Wednesday morning that many people thought would not. One of three eggs in an eagle's nest near the Decorah Fish Hatchery is no longer an egg, but an eaglet. The egg hatched in spite of brutal weather conditions including ten inches of snow and 20 degree below zero temperatures. No one is happier about the day's events than Bob Anderson who installed a web cam in the nest 6 years ago as part of the Raptor Resource Project. He talks with Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank.  See the nest at http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles.

A Taste of Iowa Summer

Mar 20, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

A first of its kind facility in Marshalltown is bringing a taste of Iowa summer to dinner tables.  Iowa Choice Harvest frozen sweet corn and apples have been available in a few grocery stores in the central part of the state, but in April, all 107 Fareway stores will feature the products.  Iowa Choice Harvest is a group of 30 farmers who have invested in the company to have Iowa grown fruits and vegetables available year round.   CEO Penny Brown Huber was able to secure a USDA grant to study how the market would react to a facility like theirs.

Honeybees may be among the many victims of this winter's extended stretches of extreme cold. The State Department of Agriculture's Apiarist, Andrew Joseph says annual winter losses among U.S. beekeepers run about 30 percent. Iowa's losses are likely to be 60 to 65 percent. He says bees that are in good shape can survive a very harsh winter, but those that have been weakened by pesticides or parasites are not likely to survive until spring.

New Neighbors

Mar 6, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

  Since 1990, Waterloo has been a draw for refugees looking for a new start.  Five thousand Bosnians relocated there and over the years have had a significant positive impact on the business community and school system. Since 2010, an influx of nearly 12 hundred Burmese have made their way to Northeast Iowa. An initial federal grant has expired and now the search is on for sponsoring agencies to help foot the bills.

Valentine S.H.O.P.

Feb 10, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

S.H.O.P. (the Super Hardcore Overtone Project) is a barbershop quartet on the University of Northern Iowa campus established in the fall of 2011. Members include Colby Campbell, Ben Owen, Brandon Schneider, and Austin Nolan. All four are music majors at UNI, though the quartet is entirely extracurricular and self-standing.  

The group is performing  singing Valentines (for a small fee) from Thursday, February 13th through Sunday the 16th. Their first solo show will be held Saturday night, February 15th at St. John's Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls at 7 p.m.

Photo courtesy of GCN

Formed in 2010 to provide disaster relief to earthquake victims in Haiti, Iowa based Global Compassion Network is expanding its reach. Later this month, ten Safe T Homes built by Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield will be used as housing for missionaries in Kenya. GCN Development Coordinator, Mary Graham says another project is under construction in Peru. She says, "it'll be a multi-purpose center and a Bible camp. We're really excited to bring the Safe T Homes around the world."  Graham says Global Compassion Network also responds to disasters in the U.S.

Shrimp Harvest in Iowa

Dec 19, 2013
IPR's Pat Blank

A Cedar Falls man, his wife and brother have launched the state's second shrimp farm. Matt Weichers, his wife Jen and brother John Gielau are raising thousands of Pacific white shrimp in a warehouse near UNI. The building once housed the university's white rat lab used for behavioral research. Now it's filled with 30 blue "hot tubs" and thousands of the critters ready for sale this week.  

Classroom Creatures

Nov 21, 2013
IPR's Pat Blank

A Wartburg College professor hopes to bring biology classrooms back to life. Michael Bechtel says students should be studying living creatures not ones that are dead and floating in formaldehyde. He's been growing a collection of snakes, frogs, tortoises and others for about 19 years. He's sharing them in his college classroom and beyond.

Bringing in the Harvest

Oct 28, 2013
IPR's Pat Blank

Pam Johnson has just wrapped up a term as president of the National Corn Growers Association. She and her husband and two sons farm in Floyd County in North Iowa. Johnson testified in July before a U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy about the need to continue the Renewable Fuels Standard for ethanol.

IPR's Dean Borg

William N. Ruud has been officially installed as the University of Northern Iowa's tenth president. He replaces Ben Allen who retired earlier this year. Ruud is in the process of winning over a campus community facing declining enrollment, cuts to academic programs and the closure of a laboratory school.

Rescue Ready

Oct 2, 2013
IPR's Pat Blank

A study by Purdue University shows the overall death rate from accidents on American farms is declining, but the number of fatalities from grain bin entrapments has been stubbornly steady. The peak was 2010 in which 51 people, mostly teenagers died. Iowa's volunteer firefighters are getting updated training and new equipment in case a rescue is needed.

Monster Machinery

Sep 26, 2013
IPR's Amy Mayer

The Iowa Department of Transportation is reporting 79 crashes and 5 fatalities involving farm equipment in 2013. Safety officials say drivers need to be alert especially at dusk and dawn when these huge machines tend to be more numerous. They also say farmers need to share responsibility by making sure motorists know when they're about to turn or make a sudden stop. Farmers are asked not to wave motorists by them, but instead pull off to the side of the road if possible.

Run Hide Fight

Sep 13, 2013
Pat Blank

Nearly 400 teachers in the Cedar Falls School District spent today learning some new options should they ever have to deal with someone with a gun in their classroom.  The training was provided by the Cedar Falls Police Department and focused on updated protocols from the Department of Homeland Security. Much like the fire drill, Stop, Drop and Roll,  public safety officials have developed Run, Hide, Fight for use in an active shooter situation.The Cedar Falls School District is one of the first in the state to involve all teachers, not just administrators.

Putting the I in Iowa

Sep 2, 2013
Pat Blank

Adamu Muhammad came to Iowa from Nigeria in 2008 through the U.S. Embassy Achievers Program that helps promising low income students apply to American colleges and universities.  His academic prowess in science and math got him noticed by Waverly's Wartburg  College. Muhammad graduated last August and after a few months at a soil testing lab in Ames, he found a job in Hartley. He works as a chemist at an ethanol plant with a shift that has him working seven days on and seven days off. He's decided in that spare time he'd like to see all of Iowa's 99 counties.

Pat Blank

Iowa's 15- day annual roadside survey is underway at 208 locations around the state. The 30 mile routes are driven at sunrise by Department of Natural Resources staff members along gravel roads. The surveyors watch for pheasants, cottontail and jack rabbits, quail and Hungarian partridge. The count helps gauge the well being of those species, with a focus on the pheasant population. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank tagged along on a survey in Story County.

Going Going Gone

Jul 30, 2013
Courtesy photo

A new report out Tuesday shows millions of wetland acres and highly erodible grassland and prairie are being plowed under and planted into row crops. This in turn causes intense soil erosion especially in a wet spring like this year. The four year, multi state study was conducted by Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/research/going-going-gone.

Corn Crew

Jul 22, 2013
Pat Blank

A Midwest summertime tradition is in full swing: corn detasseling.  Every summer, seed corn companies hire thousands of seasonal workers to remove the top of the corn plant to produce hybrid varieties.  The minimum age in Iowa to do the work is 14. Those as young as 12 can detassel in Illinois and Nebraska.  Many crew leaders who started in their teens are now in their 50s and 60s.  Workers say even though it's often hot in the cornfield and the work is tedious, they return year after year because they are paid good money by the companies.

Veterinary Camp

Jul 17, 2013
Pat Blank

There are numerous opportunities this summer for young people to attend day camps, anything from sports to how to be Annie in a Broadway show. The Iowa Veterinary Medical Association offers hands-on opportunities for teens to see what it takes to be a vet. IPR's Pat Blank has the story from the Dallas County Fair in Adel.

PAGBRAI

Jul 17, 2013
Courtesy photo

PAGBRAI, the Paddlers Annual Great Boat Rides Across Iowa makes its maiden voyage Friday. The inaugural float will shove off for three days of Winnebago River traveling in North Central Iowa. It will run from Leland to Mason City. This is part of a documentary movie production, entitled "River Riders ", which will premiere at the Iowa Independent Film Festival in October. PAGBRAI organizer Gregory Schmidt talks with Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank.

Detasseling Delay

Jul 10, 2013
Courtesy photo

The wet spring has delayed the growth of corn used for seed by Iowa companies including the largest, DuPont Pioneer. That, in turn, has pushed back the schedule of hundreds of part time workers who make money in the fields by removing the top of the plant known as the tassel.  Production manager for the Reinbeck facility, Colby Entriken says ,"we're hoping to start pulling tassels next week which is about a week behind schedule.

Whitewater Challenge

Jun 27, 2013
Justin DeVore

Water has been a challenge this spring for many Iowa communities as excessive rainfall sends residents heading for higher ground. This weekend, Charles City officials, in the north central part of the state, are hoping thousands will run toward the Cedar River instead of away from it. It's the site of the second Whitewater Challenge where kayakers and other paddlers play in the water for fun and sport.

Pat Blank

Cousins and long-time business partners Jeff and Mark Nelson have immersed  themselves in aquaculture. They're growing fish in a part of the country where pork is king. They've converted a former hog confinement building into a farm-raised fish venture called Iowa's First.  They have eighteen, ten thousand gallon tanks filled with hybrid bass which they ship to restaurants all over the country. The Nelsons are also experimenting with growing shrimp.

Soybean planting slow

Jun 18, 2013
Courtesy photo

Spring planting could linger into the summer for many Iowa soybean farmers. The state's trading partners and commodity markets are keeping a close eye on what happens here and it could impact the economy down the road. Grant Kimberley is the market development director for the Iowa Soybean Association. He tells Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank, this year has been a challenge.

Iowa Army National Guard

The Iowa National Guard will face furloughs next  month due to the federal government sequester. Approximately 11 hundred full-time guard members, called federal technicians, will be idle one day each week without pay from July 8th through September 30th. Guard spokesman Colonel Greg Hapgood says the last time they dealt with furloughs was in the mid 1990s.

Hapgood says the furloughs will not affect active guard and reserve members. Those who will be impacted do everything from accounting to aircraft maintenance.

KWWL TV

Public safety officials have evacuated the Butler County town of New Hartford due to rising flood waters of Beaver Creek that runs just west of town.  All 650 residents have been asked to voluntarily leave much as they did almost exactly five years ago. Mitch Nordmeyer is the Butler County Emergency Management Director, he talks with Iowa Public Radio’s Pat Blank

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