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

Deere and Company

The John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in Waterloo opens to the public next Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Project  Manager Dawn Hendershot says it took four years to plan and renovate the structure which features 19 tractors from different eras and more than two dozen “hands-on “ interactive exhibits. She says “they’ll get to see examples of tractors, the engine design and manufacturing and how the tractors here have had a global impact.”

Deere Decline

Nov 26, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Quad Cities based Deere and Company is reporting fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations.

The agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer says earnings per share were $1.83 on revenue of $8.9 billion. That topped predictions of $1.57 on $7.75 billion in sales. 

But when compared with the previous year, the company's earnings and revenue both declined.  Deere officials say they don’t expect that trend to improve in 2015.

Deere expects sales to decline in  both its agriculture and turf equipment lines.

Baby It's Cold INSIDE

Nov 25, 2014

The U.S Energy Administration this week predicted Midwesterners could enjoy utility bills as much as 38 percent lower than last winter. While that sounds good, the man who oversees a low income heating assistance program believes the numbers are flawed.

Premium Processing

Nov 11, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Central Iowa is about to get a much needed economic shot in the arm as a long awaited beef processing plant opens its doors providing hundreds of new jobs. 

courtesy of Rod Blum campaign

Republican Rod Blum, a Dubuque businessman, defeated Democrat Pat Murphy for Iowa’s 1st Congressional District in a tight race that was separated by a little more than 5,000 votes. 

Train Track Trespassing

Oct 30, 2014
Iowa Northern Railroad

Many types of wildlife migrate and feed along the edges of freshly harvested fields near railroad tracks setting up a recipe for disaster if hunters can’t resist the temptation to stay off the property. Iowa railroad officials, including the Iowa Northern Railroad’s Mark Vaughn say their trains often carry unusual and oversized freight such as windmill components and tractors from the Deere Assembly plant in Waterloo.  He says this could be dangerous if someone is walking nearby.He says “ our locomotives and railcars typically overhang the track by at least three feet on either side and the

25 Mile March

Oct 24, 2014

U.S. Army veteran John Lame and Iowa National Guardsman Chad Madison are organizing what they hope will be an annual event to raise awareness about solider suicide. Lame says their effort is based on a program in Minnesota called The Next Objective held each October 23rd.

Rand Rallies Republicans

Oct 22, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

U-S Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is in Iowa today in support of GOP candidates up and down the ticket. Speaking at the University of Northern Iowa on behalf of First District Congressional candidate Rod Blum, Paul said he believes Republicans will do well in the upcoming election,” in Kentucky where I’m from, the Democratic candidate for the U-S Senate can’t remember who she voted for for President, and then you come to Iowa and everybody comes here for the Democrat but they can’t remember his name either, I really wish Bruce Bailey well, I really do.”


IPR's Pat Blank

  Cedar Falls has been named the 2014 eCity for the state of Iowa. The award comes from Google and the independent research firm IPSOS. The recognition means the brick and mortar business community in Cedar Falls also embraces connecting online with their customers. They also use the web to find new ways to market their products. Chris Russell is Operations Manager for Goggle's Council Bluffs Data Center. He says, " the point of all this is that it's not always Des Moines that wins.

Don't Blame the Farmers

Oct 10, 2014

  An Iowa energy expert says farmers are often unfairly blamed when propane supplies are low and prices are high. Farmers use LP to dry their corn before it's stored to avoid spoilage. Harold Hommes with the State Department of Agriculture says  farm use is only part of the picture. He says international customers also draw down supplies, " we now export around 400 thousand barrels a day and probably will for the foreseeable future.

Less Pain for Propane

Oct 9, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

   State agriculture and energy officials are working together in the event that there's high demand for liquid propane this harvest season. Iowa Propane Gas Association Executive Director Deb Grooms says customers were asked to top off their tanks this summer. She says farmers got the same message from Ag Secretary Bill Northey.

First District Face-off

Oct 8, 2014
Photos provided by candidate's campaigns

The candidates battling for an open First District Congressional seat are meeting for their first debate tonight. Iowa Public Radio's Pat Blank has a profile of the race.

Democrat Pat Murphy and Republican Rod Blum are well known in the Dubuque area. Blum is a businessman and Murphy is a long time state lawmaker.  But the first district also includes Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and many other towns west of the Mississippi.  Each candidate is using a different method to introduce himself to voters. Blum tells constituents he feels an obligation to run.

Produce Premium

Oct 7, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Iowa farmers and gardeners harvesting a bumper crop of produce can now get a tax credit when they make a donation to their local food bank.

Caustic Cucumbers

Sep 30, 2014
Courtesy photo

Along with Iowa' s more traditional crops, two species of cucumber vines are having a bumper year.  You won't find them at the farmer's market though, because they're weeds. The light green vines can grow as long as 30 feet and will coil around anything they touch. They've been showing up in windbreaks in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Iowa State University Agronomy professor Bob Hartzler says the vines are very aggressive and will return year after year.

Sprouts and Scholars

Sep 26, 2014
Courtesy photo

  The student organization Sprouts and Scholars at Davenport Central High School has planted an organic vegetable garden and is now harvesting their first crops.  They are enjoying a bumper crop of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and onions. The group secured grants from both Hy-Vee and Lowe's to help offset the cost of the project. As they've discovered, part of the reward of having a garden is being able to share the bounty with others. So they've allowed the cafeteria staff to have the ingredients for salsa and soup and they recently presented Mayor Bill Gluba with a basket of tomatoes.

Trackin' Turtles

Sep 18, 2014
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.

Red Earth Green Earth

Sep 11, 2014
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.  

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.

Pheasant Frenzy

Sep 2, 2014
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."

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."

Home Base Iowa Update

Aug 12, 2014
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.

Got Goats?

Jul 10, 2014
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.

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.

A New Way To Raise Beef ?

Jun 13, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

    

    

Cowboy Church

Jun 1, 2014
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.

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.

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