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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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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News
12:56 pm
Sat August 3, 2013

Roadside Ride-Along, Countin' Critters

Sunrise near Hendrickson Marsh in Story County
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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
2:32 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Going Going Gone

Credit 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:03 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Corn Crew

Veteran detasslers Mackenzie McLaughlin and David Jaramillo
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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
7:35 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Veterinary Camp

Dr. Pat Rohret shows campers how to give a simple exam
Credit 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.

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News
3:36 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

PAGBRAI

Paddlers travel one of Iowa's many rivers
Credit 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
4:51 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Detasseling Delay

Most detasseling crews include teens and young adults
Credit 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.

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News
6:36 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Whitewater Challenge

Kayakers and others will "take the challenge" on the course this weekend in Charles City
Credit 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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
6:42 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

Cousins raise fish in former hog barn

These hybrid bass are grown at Iowa's First
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.

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Agriculture and Harvest Public Media
4:20 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Soybean planting slow

Rick and Grant Kimberley plant soybeans on their farm near Maxwell
Credit 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.

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News
1:36 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Iowa National Guard Faces Staff Furloughs

The Iowa Guard is furloughing some employees, but the cuts under the federal sequester do not affect soldiers and airmen.
Credit 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.

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News
3:22 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

New Hartford flooding and evacuation

This is the area of concern just west of New Hartford where the waters of Beaver Creek have overflowed
Credit 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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News
3:40 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Lessons Learned: Parkersburg 2013

An EF5 tornado demolished the Aplington-Parkersburg High School
Courtesy photo
  • IPR's Pat Blank talks with former Parkersburg Chief of Police Chris Luhring about the EF5 tornado that tore the town in two in 2008. Luhring is the now the City Clerk.

Residents of Parkersburg and nearby towns that were hit by an EF5 tornado five years ago are remembering the events of that day as information pours in from Moore, Oklahoma.  Parkersburg City Clerk, Chris Luhring says he believes part of the healing process involves helping others when you can, " I think our goal for Moore, Oklahoma is to feel our love and support and our prayers for them, people here don’t do it for the credit, they’re just leaving in the middle of the night to help and to raise some funds." Seven people were killed in Parkersburg and two died in nearby Ne

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Crime, Justice and Public Safety
6:26 am
Tue May 14, 2013

Payout Reduced in Henry's Turkey Discrimination Case

Credit freefoto.com

A landmark $240 million verdict against a Texas company who employed mentally disabled workers at an Iowa turkey processing plant will be reduced to about $1.6 million because of a law capping their damages. The 32 men faced decades of verbal and physical abuse at work and at home.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Henry's Turkey Service have agreed in legal briefs that each plaintiff can recover $50,000 - compared to the $7.5 million a jury awarded them on May 1st.

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Business and Economy
7:30 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Postville, Iowa then and now

The name of the kosher meat packing plant was changed from Agri-Processors to Agri-Star when it reopened under new ownership
Credit Pat Blank

Five years ago, on May 12, 2008, Postville's kosher meat packing plant was the site the largest immigration raid in Iowa history. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank talks with some of those who were there then and who are still there now

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News
3:20 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Hail pummels Northeast Iowa

It's not a ping pong ball, it's a hail stone in Cedar Falls on Monday morning.
Credit Paige Fevold Hill

It took less than an hour for a line of thunderstorms moving across Northeast Iowa Monday morning to cause thousands of dollars in damage. Hail the size of ping pong balls was the source of the devastation.

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