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NCPR News Staff: Zach Hirsch

Reporter and Producer

Zach Hirsch has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Vermont. He got his radio training at the Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole, MA.
 
As a senior at UVM, Zach carried out a yearlong, ethnographic investigation on the handling of so-called street people in downtown Burlington. He won honors for his thesis, but he felt that the final report was too academic. So he made the paper more accessible by translating it into stories and interviews. Those were his first radio pieces.

Zach left Burlington after college for the Transom program. In Woods Hole, he was among an elite group of nine, learning the ropes from award-winning journalists and documentarians. While at the program, he reported on the psychological aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. His profile of two survivors was at the center of an hour-long discussion on WCAI's The Point. Zach's work has also aired on NPR's Weekend Edition, Public Radio Remix, the HowSound podcast, WFUV, and New Hampshire Public Radio.

Stories filed by Zach Hirsch

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Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/garysoup/367513235/">Gary Stevens</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Gary Stevens, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Massena responds to dirty needle discoveries

Massena's chief of police, Tim Currier, says he is looking into programs that would encourage safe disposal of used syringes. The syringes are a biohazard; sometimes they transmit diseases like Hepatitis C or HIV.

Last month, Massena police officers responded to 11 calls from people who found used syringes in public: in a park, near a school, and on Main Street.  Go to full article
Toys for Tots is a national program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marine_corps/8245135160/">United States Marine Corps</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Toys for Tots is a national program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Photo: United States Marine Corps, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Possible letdown for needy St. Lawrence Co. children

There's a chance the Toys for Tots program won't be able to help kids in need in St. Lawrence County this holiday season. Last year, Toys for Tots made Christmas a little brighter for more than 6,000 kids in the county.

Toys for Tots is a national charity, run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Each holiday season, the volunteer staff organizes toy drives and gives presents to needy children.

This year, it's complicated. Raymond Cutway, the longtime coordinator for the county, is stepping down. And the organization is having trouble finding someone to take his place.  Go to full article
Photo: Antique Boat Museum
Photo: Antique Boat Museum

A taste of country music fame at Clayton's Antique Boat Museum

Every year, the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton is closed all through the winter. This Friday, the museum brings spring to the Thousand Islands with a new schedule.

And visitors this year will get a little taste of country music fame, from a southern star with a strong connection to the North Country.  Go to full article
Prospective foster parent Jared Carey works as the production coordinator for the Community Performance Series at SUNY Potsdam. He's also the business manager for the Orchestra of Northern New York. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Prospective foster parent Jared Carey works as the production coordinator for the Community Performance Series at SUNY Potsdam. He's also the business manager for the Orchestra of Northern New York. Photo: Zach Hirsch

What it takes to be a North Country foster parent

This week, we've been reporting stories on foster care in the North Country (find more stories here). A foster home is supposed to be a safe place for kids. And foster parents are the people who make that happen.

Not everyone is cut out to be a foster parent. Getting certified takes a lot of work. Foster parents have to get a background check, they have to take classes, and their house has to get inspected, to name just a few of the steps. In this last installment of our series, we go behind the scenes.  Go to full article
Case planner Matthew McAllister runs through an exercise with prospective foster parents. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Case planner Matthew McAllister runs through an exercise with prospective foster parents. Photo: Zach Hirsch

North Country fostering: "The need's not going anywhere"

Over the last few months, we've been researching foster care in the North Country (find more stories here). Yesterday, we met Dominique Tarkenton-Otto, who gave us the children's perspective. Now, we hear from the case workers who help those kids.

Zach Hirsch talks with Martha Foley about some lingering questions about his profile of Dominique, and the bigger picture.  Go to full article
Dominique Tarkenton and her foster mom, Tammy Otto, at Tammy's house earlier this month. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Dominique Tarkenton and her foster mom, Tammy Otto, at Tammy's house earlier this month. Photo: Zach Hirsch

"I call her Mom": a foster family in Macomb

Tens of thousands of kids end up in foster care each year in New York State. And a lot of the time, it's because they were abused or neglected at home. Foster care is supposed to be a short-term arrangement. Child Protective Services gets kids out, and a foster care agency gives them a safe place to stay. The idea is, they'll go home when things stabilize.

But it's not a simple process. When the caseworker first arrives to pick a child up, a moment they call the "removal," it can be terrifying. Many children put up a fight. But Dominique Tarkenton didn't resist. At 11, she knew it was time to go. "I decided I just wanted to leave, to get out. And not come back."  Go to full article
Dari Whitehouse with her son, Jerry Peckham, at Dari's birthday party in 2013. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Dari Whitehouse with her son, Jerry Peckham, at Dari's birthday party in 2013. Photo: Zach Hirsch

In Boston marathon bombings, psychological trauma just as real

It's now a year since the Boston marathon bombings. Three people died that day. More than 260 people suffered injuries. This anniversary week, we've heard lots of heartening stories of how far many have come since that frightening day.

Not all of the wounds are physical. Last year, Zach Hirsch profiled two survivors dealing with the psychological aftermath.  Go to full article
The Canton United Methodist Church regularly offers free meals. Photo: Zach Hirsch
The Canton United Methodist Church regularly offers free meals. Photo: Zach Hirsch

Systemic hunger, right here in the North Country

In the North Country, there is an ongoing conversation about poverty, health, and hunger. Over the last five years, 40 percent more people living in St. Lawrence County have signed up for SNAP benefits, or food stamps.

Nationwide, one in six Americans doesn't know where the next meal is coming from.

Last week, about a hundred people gathered in Potsdam to watch A Place at the Table, a documentary about hunger. It's the latest film from the group behind Food, Inc.  Go to full article
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Export-Import Bank president Fred Hochberg, and Congressman Bill Owens in Ogdensburg. Photo: Zach Hirsch
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Export-Import Bank president Fred Hochberg, and Congressman Bill Owens in Ogdensburg. Photo: Zach Hirsch

Exporting North Country goods with fewer headaches

Each year, billions of dollars in material goods flow between New York and Canada. On the North Country side of the border, more and more businesses are realizing they could make good money when they export their products.

For smaller businesses, though, dealing with foreign customers and distributers can be complicated and expensive.

But at a roundtable discussion in Ogdensburg on Friday, officials told North Country business owners they can make it easier to jump into the game of international trade.  Go to full article
Dr. Kristen Esterberg will become the new president of SUNY Potsdam, and Dr. Zvi Szafran will take over at SUNY Canton. Photos via <a href="http://readme.readmedia.com/SUNY-Board-of-Trustees-Appoints-Dr-Kristin-Esterberg-as-President-of-SUNY-Potsdam/8400638?utm_source=newswire&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=media_pr_emails">SUNY Potsdam</a> and <a href="http://educate.spsu.edu/zszafran/">Southern Polytechnic State University</a>.
Dr. Kristen Esterberg will become the new president of SUNY Potsdam, and Dr. Zvi Szafran will take over at SUNY Canton. Photos via SUNY Potsdam and Southern Polytechnic State University.

SUNY Potsdam, Canton each get their own president

Canton and Potsdam's state universities each got new presidents Thursday.

In a press release, the State University of New York's Board of Trustees announced that Kristen Esterberg will be the 16th president of SUNY Potsdam. She'll be the first woman to lead the college.

Esterberg is currently the provost and academic vice president at Salem State University, in Massachusetts.  Go to full article

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