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NCPR News Staff: Sarah Harris

Reporter and Producer

Sarah Harris was a sophomore in college when the radio bug bit. She spent the year producing audio narratives of students' journeys to Middlebury (where she went to school) through the Middlebury Fellowship in Narrative Journalism. A long-time public radio listener, Sarah thought she might've found her niche. She spent the money she earned from the fellowship on equipment and promptly headed abroad to the Maldives and Nepal, where she did a ton of interviews and spent a month at Community Radio Madanpokhara, South Asia's first rural-based community radio station.

Upon returning to the United States, Sarah decided she needed to learn how to do radio for real. So she called NCPR on a Friday afternoon and proceeded to pester station manager Ellen Rocco until she agreed to give Sarah an internship. Sarah spent the following summer interning at the station and living on Ellen's DeKalb farm. She's been producing stories for NCPR ever since -- first covering the Champlain Valley in Vermont and New York, and now covering St. Lawrence County. 

Sarah's work has aired on Morning Edition and All Things Considered and has been published in The American Prospect and Slate. She reported on cement production in Chanute, Kansas through the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism and contributed to the award-winning NPR/Center for Public Integrity collaborative series "Poisoned Places." Sarah assistant taught the first session of the Transom Story Workshop in fall 2011. She lives with her partner Joe, a cat named Louie, and soon, two llamas. E-mail

Stories filed by Sarah Harris

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Vermont minimum wage up in 2012

Vermonters earning minimum wage had reason to celebrate this New Year's Day. The state's minimum wage is indexed to the cost of living. And that pushed Vermont's minimum up 31 cents yesterday, from $8.15 an hour to $8.46. It was one of 8 states to raise its minimum wage on Jan. 1, and now has the third highest minimum in the country. Minimum wage in New York State is the same as the federal rate, $7.25 an hour.  Go to full article
Joe Orifice. Photo: Kate Glenn
Joe Orifice. Photo: Kate Glenn

Paul Smith's professor a teacher and a farmer, too

Last summer, NCPR reporters traveled the region looking for the new generation of North Country farmers for a series we called Farmers Under 40. We're listening back this week to the highlights.

Today we have a profile of Joe Orefice, an assistant professor of forestry at Paul Smith's College.
Orefice taught the school's first sustainable community agriculture course this past year. He also owns and operates a small farm, which he uses as a teaching tool.

Last summer Paul Smith's culinary arts students visited Joe's farm for a lesson in local meats. Sarah Harris joined them and has our story.  Go to full article
Organizer Severine von Tscharner Fleming, photo courtesy of Cathryn Kramer
Organizer Severine von Tscharner Fleming, photo courtesy of Cathryn Kramer

Farmer "mixer" celebrates a passion for the work and land

Last summer, NCPR reporters ran the roads looking for the new generation of North Country farmers for a series we called Farmers Under 40. This week, we'll take a second listen to the highlights of that series. We started in the Champlain Valley in late June.

Beginning farmers from both sides of Lake Champlain gathered at the Grange Hall in the crossroads of Whallonsburg for a sort of mixer. The mixer was organized by the Greenhorns, a nonprofit group that works on behalf of young farmers. The day included area farm tours, workshops, food, a puppet show, and camaraderie. Typical old grange-style stuff. But it wasn't farm business as usual. Sarah Harris found the young farmers there were on a mission to change farming in America.  Go to full article
It's amazing that in this country with as much technology and money we have that we can't take care of our own people.

Burlington homeless man's death prompts debate, sorrow

Paul O'Toole, a Burlington homeless man, died of hypothermia Saturday night. He was found sleeping on a heating grate. The temperature was 17 degrees, with windchill around 6. O'Toole's death has sparked debate about what options the homeless have as the weather gets colder. Some say he could have benefited from a low, barrier, or wet shelter. That means the kind of shelter where you're allowed in even if you're intoxicated. But mostly, people were sad that O'Toole couldn't get the help he needed. Sarah Harris stopped in Georgia Center and Milton, Vermont, to hear what people had to say.  Go to full article
The Veteran's Lane mail processing center in Plattsburgh
The Veteran's Lane mail processing center in Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh mail processing center may close

The US Postal Service is in crisis mode, trying to downsize while wrestling with billions of dollars in deficits. Dozens of local post offices have been targeted for possible closure. And as many as 200 mail processing centers around the country may also shut down - including facilities in Plattsburgh, Glens Falls and White River Junction, Vermont. A final decision on their fate has been put off until May, but as Sarah Harris reports, people are already talking about the jobs and the services that may be lost here in the North Country.  Go to full article
Fiona, in headgear
Fiona, in headgear

Farmers Under 40: Mangles, milk and other experiments

Bali McKentley grew up in Potsdam. Her parents own St. Lawrence nurseries, a one-of-a-kind provider of cold-hardy edible plants to growers across the country. Bali helps with the family business. But she's also branching out, trying all kinds of agricultural experiments. Sarah Harris visited the nursery and has more.  Go to full article
Bruce Horne. Photo: Caitlyn Loucas
Bruce Horne. Photo: Caitlyn Loucas

Heard Up North: An Unusual Passage on Horne's Ferry

Bruce Horne is captain and owner of Horne's Ferry. His family has carried passengers from Cape Vincent, New York across the St. Lawrence River to Wolfe Island, Canda since 1802. Bruce has made hundreds of trips across the St. Lawrence. He told Sarah Harris about a particularly memorable one in today's Heard Up North.  Go to full article
Sue Grimm points out a still-growing poylphemus. Inset: adult polyphemus
Sue Grimm points out a still-growing poylphemus. Inset: adult polyphemus

Heard Up North: Polyphemus moths, monarchs, and more at the VIC

All kinds of creatures make their home in the North Country, including a number of native butterflies. Sarah Harris visited the butterfly house at the Paul Smith's Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) on a rainy Friday afternoon, talked to educator Sue Grimm, and has today's Heard Up North.  Go to full article
Joe Orefice, mid-butchery. Photo: Kate Glenn
Joe Orefice, mid-butchery. Photo: Kate Glenn

Farmers Under 40: A farmer and a teacher, too

Our Farmers Under 40 series continues throughout the summer. Today we have a profile of Joe Orefice, an assistant professor of forestry at Paul Smith's College.

Orefice taught the school's first sustainable community agriculture course this past year. He also owns and operates a small farm, which he uses as a teaching tool.

This summer Paul Smith's culinary students visited Joe's farm for a lesson in local meats. Sarah Harris joined them and has our story.  Go to full article
Middlebury College Organic Garden. Photo: Dan Kane
Middlebury College Organic Garden. Photo: Dan Kane

Farmers Under 40: Liberal arts students try their hand at farming

Land grant schools like Cornell University have long specialized in teaching agriculture. But across the country, liberal arts colleges are adding programs about food, farming, and sustainability to their curricula.

They're not teaching farming per se--no classes about pests or crop rotation. They're giving farming the full liberal arts treatment, offering courses in philosophy and economics, as well as some work in the field.

As Sarah Harris reports, they want students to think critically about food systems and sustainable practices.  Go to full article

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