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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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New York State Education Department building in Albany, NY. Photo: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NYSED_Building_Night_2.JPG">Matt Wade</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
New York State Education Department building in Albany, NY. Photo: Matt Wade, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Teachers' union withdraws support from Common Core

Over the weekend the New York State United Teachers union board voted to withdraw their support of Common Core standards.

They also passed a vote of no confidence in State Education Commissioner John King.  Go to full article
Eric Young, soil scientist at the Miner Institute. He's leading a study on tile drains. Photo: courtesy of Miner Institute
Eric Young, soil scientist at the Miner Institute. He's leading a study on tile drains. Photo: courtesy of Miner Institute

Tile drains: good or bad?

Tile drains are controversial. Farmers install the slotted pipes under their crops to drain water faster, extend the growing season, and increase crop yield. But environmentalists worry that the drains provide a direct route for harmful nutrients, like phosphorus, into a waterway.

Phosphorus loading in Lake Champlain has led to dangerous blue green algae blooms. And phosphorus levels in the lake remain stubbornly high.

A new study at the Miner Institute in Chazy may provide some answers.  Go to full article
Canton Central School. Photo: Lizette Haenel
Canton Central School. Photo: Lizette Haenel

What does Cuomo's budget mean for schools in the North Country?

Governor Cuomo's budget was packed full of big news for schools. He proposed universal pre-kindergarten, after school programs, and a $2 billion bond initiative that would bring technology into classrooms. But North Country educators say there are other implications for area schools.  Go to full article
Art Sennett, holding a sculpture. Photo: Sarah Harris
Art Sennett, holding a sculpture. Photo: Sarah Harris

Art Sennett: Making magic with clay

For 35 years, Art Sennett taught ceramics at SUNY Potsdam. He inspired generations of students to work with clay and create art. And he made a lot of his own pottery from raw materials he found in the North Country. Now, Art's retired. He spends his summers in Potsdam, and winters on an island off the coast of Georgia, where he teaches art classes.  Go to full article
Sarah Rivers, 10th grader and student representative to the merger committee. She liked Potsdam's sugar shack, but has concerns about the auditorium size and a divided middle and high school. Photo: Sarah Harris.
Sarah Rivers, 10th grader and student representative to the merger committee. She liked Potsdam's sugar shack, but has concerns about the auditorium size and a divided middle and high school. Photo: Sarah Harris.

Inside school: to merge or not to merge?

Canton and Potsdam school districts are considering a merger.
The idea is to save money and offer more opportunities to students.

A 28-person committee of administrators, teachers and students and a Buffalo-based consulting firm are studying how it could work, and what the pay-offs would be. They're on a short deadline, with a recommendation due in the late spring. Then the two communities will vote.  Go to full article
Canton Central School. Photo: Lizette Haenel
Canton Central School. Photo: Lizette Haenel

Auditing Canton Central: It's all in the (fund) balance

When the state Comptroller audited Canton Central School District recently, auditors found what school officials already know too well: the district can't rely on its dwindling fund balance for much longer.  Go to full article
Neon sign at a medical marijuana dispensary in California. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/28402283@N07/3410000930/">Chuck Coker</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Neon sign at a medical marijuana dispensary in California. Photo: Chuck Coker, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

What will medical marijuana look like in New York state?

Governor Cuomo delivers his State of the State address later today. He's expected to announce an executive action permitting limited access to medical marijuana in New York. There are still a lot of questions about how the program will work.  Go to full article
Signposts along the way. Photo: Sarah Harris
Signposts along the way. Photo: Sarah Harris

Defining the Champlain Valley

During the holidays we're listening back to some of our favorite stories from 2013. Some are newsy, others are just fun. A taste of summer in this story.

Lake Champlain means different thing to different people. It's a border between Vermont, Quebec, and New York. It's where people go to fish, swim, and boat. People cross it to get to work or see their families. It's even a drinking water supply. Reporter Sarah Harris spent a week driving around the lake and asking people what it means to live in the Champlain Valley. Here's what she learned.  Go to full article
Chimney Point Historic Site, VT, the final stop for the progressive mixer. Photo: Sarah Harris
Chimney Point Historic Site, VT, the final stop for the progressive mixer. Photo: Sarah Harris

Across the bridge: a mixer in VT and NY

During the holidays we're listening back to some of our favorite stories from 2013. Some are newsy, others are just fun. We'll return to Sarah Harris' drive around Lake Champlain last summer. She began by attending a "progressive dinner" that started on one side of the new Champlain Bridge, and ended on the other.  Go to full article
An Amish farm in St. Lawrence county. Photo: Sarah Harris
An Amish farm in St. Lawrence county. Photo: Sarah Harris

Amish farmers partner with Agri-Mark

Most of the North Country is losing population, and losing farms. But there's one group that keeps growing: Old Order Amish. They're drawn to the St. Lawrence Valley by the area's cheap, available farmland.

The Amish live an agrarian lifestyle that's more 19th century than 21st century. But in order to support their communities and their culture, the Amish have had to find a place in the local economy, including the dairy industry and an unlikely partnership with Agri-Mark.

Agri-Mark provides electrified milk houses where the Amish can deposit their milk. The partnership is expanding: Agri-Mark has built 4 new milk houses since June of 2013.  Go to full article

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