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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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Looking down on the action at Airborne Park. All photos: Sarah Harris
Looking down on the action at Airborne Park. All photos: Sarah Harris

Almost airborne at Airborne Park Speedway

Fans, friends and families have been coming to Plattsburgh's Airborne Park Speedway for stock car racing since 1955. Since those old days stockcar racing has become a national phenomenon, one of the nation's favorite spectator sports.

But on this popular regional track, the passion is more personal. The cars are mostly homemade and the drivers range from teens to retirees.

"Stock" doesn't really say it all about these cars, or the people who love them. Sarah Harris went to the track and sends this postcard.  Go to full article
Essex, NY, seen from a pier in Lake Champlain. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/34715542@N02/4083583139/">Raymond Johnston</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Essex, NY, seen from a pier in Lake Champlain. Photo: Raymond Johnston, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

George Davis learns community from life in Essex

For George Davis, life in Essex, New York has been a lesson in community. He's become a cheerleader for the little town -- serving on boards, restoring a historic property, and even tweeting and blogging about life on Lake Champlain. Sarah Harris interviewed Davis in his boathouse right by the Essex-Charlotte ferry for today's Heard Up North.  Go to full article
Guy Palardy in front of a roll of drainage pipe. Photo: Sarah Harris
Guy Palardy in front of a roll of drainage pipe. Photo: Sarah Harris

Are tile drains bad for Lake Champlain?

Farmers in the Champlain Valley often use tile drains in their fields. They help the region's clay soil drain faster and produce higher crop yields.

But for years, Lake Champlain has had high levels of phosphorus pollution, which can result in toxic blue-green algae blooms. And farm runoff is one of the primary contributors. Now scientists are trying to figure out whether there's a link between tile drainage and phosphorus pollution.  Go to full article
A new bridge for the Champlain Valley, seen at dawn this morning. Photo:  Brian Mann
A new bridge for the Champlain Valley, seen at dawn this morning. Photo: Brian Mann

Lakeside living on Lake Champlain

Bill Howland is director of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, an organization that "works in partnership with government agencies from New York, Vermont, and Québec, private organizations, local communities, and individuals to coordinate and fund efforts that benefit the Lake Champlain Basin's water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources."

Sarah Harris sat down with him to discuss the geography of the Champlain Valley -- and what it means for people living near the lake.  Go to full article
Signposts along the way. Photo: Sarah Harris
Signposts along the way. Photo: Sarah Harris

Defining the Champlain Valley

Lake Champlain is a lot of things: 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. Last week reporter Sarah Harris drove around the lake, asking people what it means to live in the Champlain Valley. Here's what she learned.  Go to full article
The view from the boat. Photo: Sarah Harris
The view from the boat. Photo: Sarah Harris

Sailing on Lake Champlain

Sailing is a big part of life on Lake Champlain. Each summer, marinas from Whitehall to Rouses Point fill up with boats - and a lot of them belong to Canadians.  Go to full article
Les and Erica Goodman. Photo: Sarah Harris
Les and Erica Goodman. Photo: Sarah Harris

From milk to beer: Dairy family switches to hops

Agriculture in the North Country is changing - and the evidence is everywhere. For the Goodmans, a longtime dairy family in Fort Ann, in Washington County, it's time to get out of the business. But Erica and Les Goodman are trying something new on their land: growing hops. And they're using social media to do it.  Go to full article
Lorraine Franklin, in front of her gift shop sign. Photo: Sarah Harris
Lorraine Franklin, in front of her gift shop sign. Photo: Sarah Harris

Addison County, VT: A point of intersection

Addison County, Vermont, is home to wide swaths of farmland, quaint towns, and the western slope of the Green Mountains. It's also home to one of the two bridges that cross Lake Champlain. The bridge is a lifeline for people who live on one side of the lake and work on the other. But when the old bridge was demolished in 2009, commuters had to find another way around. Lorraine Franklin owns a gift shop in West Addison, Vermont. The bridge closure directly affected her businesses -- so she decided to fight back.  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

I'm driving around Lake Champlain, checking in with communities in Vermont, Quebec, and New York. My first stop was last week: at 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.

They 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.  Go to full article

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