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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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The International Joint Commission in St Armand, Quebec
The International Joint Commission in St Armand, Quebec

Public hearings in VT, Quebec on phosphorus in Lake Champlain's Missisquoi Bay

Missisquoi Bay is in the northeast corner of Lake Champlain, along the Vermont-Quebec border. The bay has some of the highest phosphorus concentrations in the lake and is frequently plagued by blue/green algae. In 2008, the US government asked the International Joint Commission, a bi-national body that helps manage US and Canadian boundary waters, to assist in reducing phosphorus levels in the bay.

They've now completed a study that identifies where the phosphorus is coming from and how it gets to the lake. Two public hearings are underway to discuss the results. Sarah Harris was at last night's meeting in Saint Armand, Quebec and has more.  Go to full article
Patricia Downs displays her prize-winning dress made out of gum wrappers
Patricia Downs displays her prize-winning dress made out of gum wrappers

Plattsburgh school district exceeds tax cap, asks for taxpayer support

Schools around the North Country are trying figure out how to provide quality education in the midst of a historic budget squeeze. In Plattsburgh, school officials are asking taxpayers to do more to keep enrichment and arts programs alive. Sarah Harris has that story.  Go to full article

Vermont calls for Citizens United repeal

Last week the Vermont legislature passed a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling.

That's the decision holding that under the First Amendment, the government can't limit the amount corporations and unions spend on political campaigns.

It's fueled the formation of "Super PACS" and their heavy spending in the GOP primary.

Sarah Harris has more.  Go to full article
Hydrilla. Photo: Purdue Extension
Hydrilla. Photo: Purdue Extension

NY boaters asked to help prevent spread of invasive water plant

Hydrilla is one of the most aggressive, invasive water plants. Its long, trailing stems form thick mats that prevent native water vegetation and fish from getting enough oxygen, light and nutrients.

Hydrilla was found at Cayuga Inlet, near Ithaca, last August. If unchecked it could spread Cayuga Lake, other Finger Lakes, as well as Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Cornell Cooperative Extension is warning recreational boaters to take precautions and prevent the spread of the invasive plant. Sarah Harris has more.  Go to full article

Heard Up North: World's Largest Cowbell Ensemble

15 years ago Ben and Jerry's teamed up with Vermont band Phish to create their now-famous ice cream flavor, Phish Food. On Saturday they aimed for another accomplishment, setting a record for the world's largest cowbell ensemble while raising money for flood relief in Vermont.

1600 people wearing spotted T-shirts, eating free ice cream, and waving cowbells packed onto Church Street. Phish drummer John Fishman led them in classic rock covers. The first song: 1968 hit "Time Has Come Today," by the Chambers Brothers.

Sarah Harris brings us the sound of a 1600 cowbell interpretation for today's Heard Up North.  Go to full article
Tenzin Dorjee
Tenzin Dorjee

Tibetan culture comes to Plattsburgh

Last spring downtown Plattsburgh got a new restaurant: a Himalayan restaurant. It's owned and operated by Tenzin and Yangchen Dorjee, a Tibetan couple who moved to northern New York with their two kids in 2007.

This month they're putting on a Tibetan arts festival where visiting monks will make a mandala out of sand, and offer lectures on topics ranging from Tibetan medicine to religious ethics. Sarah Harris visited the restaurant and talked to Tenzin Dorjee about the family's journey to Plattsburgh and how they're keeping their culture alive in the North Country.  Go to full article
This push for drivers licenses is not just about a piece of plastic but really about equality and trust for our communities.

Vermont considers driver's licenses for migrant workers

The dairy industry in Northern New York and Vermont relies heavily on migrant labor. A lot of the farm workers are undocumented. That causes problems when the workers have to do simple tasks that involve driving, like going to the grocery store or visiting the doctor. But Vermont legislators are discussing a bill that may change that. Sarah Harris reports.  Go to full article
The interior of the Strand Theater
The interior of the Strand Theater

Two downtown spaces bring art to Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh is a city in transition. There's a lot of effort to attract new families and businesses and rebrand the lakeside city as a destination. As Sarah Harris reports, a key part of that revitalization means bringing the downtown back to life and building the arts scene.  Go to full article
President Barack Obama, speaking at the University of Vermont. Photo: VT Digger
President Barack Obama, speaking at the University of Vermont. Photo: VT Digger

For Burlington, a visit from the president

President Barack Obama visited Burlington, Vermont last Friday for a fundraiser and campaign event. The state hasn't been visited by a sitting president since Clinton's trip in 1995. Obama arrived on Air Force One around 11:30 a.m. He met with Vermont politicians, lunched with high paying campaign donors, then spoke to a crowd of supporters at the University of Vermont. Sarah Harris was there and has our story.  Go to full article
Brett McLeod over the evaporator
Brett McLeod over the evaporator

Neighbors gather for a warm-weather "boil"

The unusually warm weather this March hasn't been great for sugar makers. Maple syrup yields across northern New York and Vermont have been low, and a lot of producers are pulling their taps. But in spite of the strange temperatures, sugaring traditions remain alive and well. Sarah Harris went to an Adirondack "boil" and sent this audio postcard.  Go to full article

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