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.

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News
5:00 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Trackin' Turtles

Turtle trackers (left to right) Nick Schemmel, Sam Berg, Buzzard, the turtle sniffing dog, Jeremy George, Anthony DiFronzo and Professor Jeff Tamplin (team member Joshua Otten not pictured)
IPR's Pat Blank

A group of University of Northern Iowa students and their professor have been spending alot of  time in the woods these days tracking an endangered species of turtle.  Of the 14 kinds of turtles in Iowa, half of them are protected including the wood turtle.  A grant from the U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Division is funding the research. Biology professor Jeff Tamplin heads the effort. He looked for the wood turtle along streams and in marshes in Black Hawk and Butler counties for two years before finding the shell of a deceased one in 2003.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:14 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Red Earth Green Earth

Red Earth Gardens was recently featured during a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day
IPR's Pat Blank

Members of the Meskwaki Nation near Tama have established a community-based farm operation.

The Red Earth Gardens spans 40 acres and boasts a wide variety of crops.  In the short two seasons they've been in operation, they've managed to grow numerous varieties of  fruits and vegetables. The tribe's extensive planning process includes a transition from row crop to certified organic by sometime next year.

Tribal members grow produce for the settlement but they also sell it to the nearby casino, at a roadside stand and at area farmer's markets.  

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:55 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Plotting for a healthier school

Senior Agatha Fenech and Cedar Falls High School Associate Principal Troy Becker
Credit IPR's Pat Blank

Cedar Falls High School Senior Agatha Fenech will serve as a National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador. As one of 51 youth ambassadors, Fenech will receive funding and training to lead an initiative to raise awareness about the health and community benefits of locally grown produce. Fenech was selected through a competitive application process based on the quality of her project proposal and its potential to creative substantive, large scale change that benefits young people in Cedar Falls.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:24 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Pheasant Frenzy

Iowa's pheasant population is the highest since 2008
Credit Audubon Society

    State wildlife officials say they're encouraged by a recent survey which shows Iowa pheasant numbers are the highest they've been in more than 6 years. Iowa DNR Biologist Todd Bogenschutz says the annual roadside count recorded a statewide average of 17 birds per 30 mile route compared to just 7 last year.

He says the numbers are surprising given the cool and wet spring, "I've got my fingers crossed, we've got good brood stock and I think think the hunters will be happy."

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:09 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Grape Production Takes a Hit

Iowa has 101 wineries
Iowa Winegrowers Association

Iowa's grape harvest is underway in many parts of the state and the news from the field is not good. State Viticulturist Mike White says a cold and wet spring destroyed many of the vines and production statewide could be down between 30 and 40 percent. He says " there are some spots like Dubuque that seem to be fairing  better, but mostly the cold damage is there and the yield is low."

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News
3:34 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Home Base Iowa Update

Kaanan Mackey and her five children visit the grave of Matthew Mackey who was killed in an accident while on active duty
Submitted photo

    Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill in May designed to provide more benefits for Iowa's military veterans. At the same time, companies and communities have pledged to make Iowa veteran friendly by offering incentives to live and work here.  It's hoped that those who have completed their service or have left the military as the result of downsizing by the Department of the Defense will find a new "home base"  : Iowa.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:29 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Fresh Yogurt, Really Fresh

An observation window in the store allows customers to watch while yogurt is being made
IPR's Pat Blank
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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
5:11 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Got Goats?

Ensign Hollow trout stream obscured by vegetation
IPR's Pat Blank

A herd of goats are the newest employees of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  64 of them will be eating their way through a 7 acre patch in  Ensign Hollow Wildlife Management Area in Northeast Iowa's Clayton County.  There's dense vegetation there that's preventing hikers, bird watchers and anglers from using the area as much as they could.  That dense vegetation is also a challenge for traditional heavy mowing equipment because of the steep terrain. The goats have with them a pair of chocolate colored miniature donkeys who will run off any would be predators.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:54 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

FFA Chapter "Beefs Up" Its Investments

Lime Springs Beef LLC owner Jesse Stevens
IPR's Pat Blank

  Students at Crestwood High School FFA are making a 20 thousand dollar investment in a soon to be opened beef processing facility near Lime Springs in North Iowa. They're using some of the 90 thousand dollars they had in the bank after selling some land a few years ago. Initially the FFA chapter was unable to take advantage of the opportunity because state law did not allow investment of taxpayer money in a private enterprise.  State lawmakers assisted the group in introducing the Entrepreneurial Funds for Student Organizations and Clubs Act.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:57 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

A New Way To Raise Beef ?

Matt (left) and John Schneider
IPR's Pat Blank

    

    

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News
3:39 pm
Sun June 1, 2014

Cowboy Church

Members of the Double J Wranglers Larry Wildeboer, Jim Gates and Jim Meyer
IPR's Pat Blank

  A musical group from Northeast Iowa has found a way to combine their love of the Old West with their faith and they’re sharing it with others.

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2014 Voter Guide
11:54 am
Sun June 1, 2014

Candidate Profile: Matt Whitaker

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Whitaker
Credit 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.

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2014 Voter Guide
1:16 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Candidate Profile: Monica Vernon

First District Democratic Congressional candidate Monica Vernon

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

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:03 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Planting with the *Clouds*

Farmers are working around the clock to take advantage of dry weather to plant their corn
Credit 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.

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Arts and Culture
5:39 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

From Russia with Love

Ten Russian students visited the Cedar Falls IPR studios Tuesday.
Credit 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:56 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Fish Farm

The waste from several tanks of Tilapia fish help feed the lettuce, kale and herbs
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.  

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News
3:42 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

The Eagle has Landed (hatched)

Mother eagle sits on her three eggs following a ten inch snowfall
Credit 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:48 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

A Taste of Iowa Summer

Iowa Choice Harvest vegetables and fruit will soon be available throughout the state
Credit 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
3:38 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Harsh winter kills Iowa honeybees

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.

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News
5:18 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

New Neighbors

Lead case worker Ann Grove and translator Liberata Aung help Burmese refugees make a new home in Waterloo
Credit 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.

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News
3:33 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Valentine S.H.O.P.

S.H.O.P. members left to right: Brandon Schneider, Colby Campbell, Austin Nolan and Ben Owen
Credit 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.

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News
10:39 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Iowa made bins provide homes around the globe

Credit 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:50 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Shrimp Harvest in Iowa

Matt Weichers shows off one of the Pacific white shrimp
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.  

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Education
6:16 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Classroom Creatures

A Pacman frog is a favorite classroom visitor
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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
2:05 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Bringing in the Harvest

North Iowa farmer Pam Johnson helps bring in the crops Sunday
Credit 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.

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News
2:49 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Ruud installed as UNI's tenth president

William Ruud is UNI's tenth president
Credit 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:55 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Rescue Ready

NECAS Director Dan Neenan trains firefighters at a school held at Kirkwood Community College
Credit 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:48 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Monster Machinery

This high rise chemical applicator known as a "highboy" is just one of the many large implements that are appearing more frequently on Iowa's roadways.
Credit 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.

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News
3:33 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Run Hide Fight

Teachers and students fight back by throwing tennis balls which simulate objects like staplers and coffee mugs
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.

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News
3:30 pm
Mon September 2, 2013

Putting the I in Iowa

Adamu Muhammad and Dr. Ramona Bouzard at Wartburg College
Credit 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.

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