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

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.

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.

Pages