Shirley Wang

Talk Show Production Assistant

Ways to Connect

Leonardo da Vinci was a certifiable genius, but historical evidence suggests that he was something of a late bloomer. Mike Lankford, author of the biography Becoming Leonardo: An Exploded View of the Life of Leonardo da Vinci,  uses archival details and a lot of imagination to bring the legend to life.

Mid-Prairie Home School Assistance Program

In the 1980's the home schooling movement was driven by evangelical Christians, who wanted to incorporate their religious beliefs into their children's education. But today, a broad range of Iowa families are choosing to teach their children at home.

Courtesy of the UI International Writing Program

Just across the street from the University of Iowa’s famed Writer’s Workshop is the Shambaugh House, the hub of the UI International Writing Program.

 

As part of the program’s 12-week residency, authors from every continent gather in Iowa City to do readings, lectures, translate literature into their native languages, and travel across the United States. Sometimes, Iowans invite residents into their homes to dine with transnational guests, says the director of the International Writing Program, Christopher Merrill.

 

Office of Senator Chuck Grassley

 

On the night before the confirmation hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, 42,000 documents containing legal opinions, emails and other records pertaining to Kavanaugh were distributed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons

 

Looking forward to the 2020 presidential election, the Grinnell College National Poll says 36 percent of likely voters would elect President Trump for office and 43 percent plan on voting for someone else.

 

As a child raised in Dubuque during the 80s, Luke Stoffel was often told by his mother to stay outside until he found his own version of fun. That, his mother Joyce says, pushed him to be inventive.

“Allowing some of that to happen in kid’s life, their boredom will eventually work into creativity,” she explains.

Todd Huffman / Creative Commons

 

Opioid-related deaths are on the rise in Iowa, and research suggests that needle exchanges may be effective in decreasing drug-related deaths.

 

KOMU News / Creative Commons

In this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks to public radio reporters from Iowa, Ohio, Kansas and Missouri to see hower voter laws are changing across the Midwest.

Iowa

A 2017 voter law required voters to provide an identification numbers from a driver’s license, a non-driver’s license or a voting card in order to apply for an absentee ballot.   

Courtesy of Allison Engel

With plenty of fast fashion outlets and cheap clothing available, Americans are purchasing, and discarding, clothing items at a rate never seen before. Allison Engel, co-author of second-hand shopping guide, "Thrift Style," says used clothign stores often provide cheaper, high-qualilty clothing options, while decreasing textile waste.

ACF OPA

What's the extent of the problem, both in Iowa and across the U.S.?

In 2017, there were 218 calls made from Iowa to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, and there were 74 human trafficking cases reported that year. Those numbers have steadily increased since 2012.

The number of identified victims in the U.S. is on the rise. The National Human Trafficking Hotline recorded a 35 percent increase in reports in 2016.

Are underage children being trafficked?

Yes. Not only that, but a study from the Center for Court Innovation found that younger victims see more customers than older victims (the children ages 13-17 were purchased by an average of 5.4 customers per day versus 4.4 times per day for those aged 18-24).

Are traffickers always men?

No. The UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking found that 52 percent of people recruiting victims are men, 42% are women, and 6% are both men and women working together.

Who are the buyers?

According to a 2014 study, about 14 percent of men in the United States report having ever paid for sex, and 1 percent report having done so during the previous year. "Of a small group of highly active customers – those who sought out sex workers listed on a prostitute review website - a substantial portion of them are married white men who earn over $120,000 annually, and have graduate degrees."

Where does trafficking occur?

About 75 percent of trafficking occurs in hotels/motels, according to Stephen O’Meara, a retired human trafficking coordinator with the Nebraska Attorney General's Office. This is why advocates in Iowa are focused on training hotel and motel staff to recognize trafficking as it happens. Trafficking also happens in illicit massage parlors in Iowa.  

Stefan Maurer / Creative Commons

Wolves are a keystone species, but they haven’t lived in Iowa for years. Their successful reintroduction into the upper midwest and the Yellowstone National Park shows us the incredible impact wolves have on the ecosystem they live in.

For example, wildlife biologist Jim Pease says the wolves make sure there aren't too many elk and other grazing animals around. He points out some of the changes that resulted in Yellowstone National Park when the wolves returned.

 

Abby Finkenauer Campaign

Since 2009, Iowa boards and commissions have been required by law to maintain gender balance. The latest research from Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics shows that boards statewide have fallen short.

Kelly Winfrey, Assistant Professor at the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University, joins host Ben Kieffer on this segment of River to River to chat about the ongoing study.

U.S. Embassy New Dehli

Franklin Roosevelt’s first vice president John Nance Garner famously said the title is “not worth a bucket of warm spit.” It's a role that has always been up for interpretation throughout White House administrations, with the VP ready to step in or step back.

On this hour of River to River, Presidential Historian Tim Walch and Donna Hoffman, head of the Political Science Department at the University of Northern Iowa, sit down with host Ben Kieffer to talk about the many iterations of this second-in-command position.

Jared Krauss

The Mississippi River provides drinking water for millions of people living in cities along the water’s edge. It also carries runoff from Midwestern farms into the Gulf of Mexico.

Nutrient runoff from Iowa agriculture is one of the leading causes of the growing “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, an oxygen-deprived section of the Gulf, which last year was recorded to be the size of the state of New Jersey.

Charity Nebbe

 

 

What happens after we die? It’s a question that we can’t answer. But more and more people are reporting what happened to them during a "near-death experience." And if you listen closely to their stories, some fascinating clues to the question emerge.

Tana Tesdall

As Alejandro Larios Mora struggled through elementary school in Anaheim, California, he didn't know he would one day travel to Iowa to become a veterinarian.

He also didn’t know that he had not been born in the United States.

“I thought I was like anybody else,” he says. “I didn’t think I would have any problems with my future.”

After he was born in Mexico, Larios Mora’s parents moved him to Hawaii, making him a DREAMer.

NPS Photo

 

25 years ago, author Elizabeth Leiknes moved away from her family in Truesdale, Iowa, though she looks upon her home state with great fondness. Her latest book, The Lost Queen of Crocker County, is an ode to the Midwestern identity.

It’s a story inspired by Leiknes' drive home from work one day. While driving, she felt a thump under her car.

“Is it a kitten? Is it a dog? What had happened?” Leiknes remembers asking herself. She went back and found nothing, but it got her thinking.

Scribner publishing

 

In this episode of Talk of Iowa, Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate Tom Macher talks with host Charity Nebbe about his debut memoir Halfway. He reflects on his childhood, growing up in a commune and a boys home, and the path that led him towards alcoholism.

“I felt like [alcohol] was the thing that I had been missing my whole life,” Tom says. “It wasn’t that I was missing a relationship with my father, or whatever other hole we feel inside ourselves.”

Photo Courtesty of Matthew Christopher

During this Talk of Iowa segment, host Charity Nebbe catches up with designer Matthew Christopher. Before Christopher became a couture dresser for celebrities and brides across the world, he made prom gowns for his dates in his hometown of Wellman. He learned to sew in 4-H as a kid.

“I was enthralled with Brides magazine at the age of 10,” Christopher says.

 

Jace Anderson/FEMA

 

No matter how intrigued you may be about the impact of a flood, it’s best to avoid exploring the waters until some time has passed.

“I see people wading in that water and I think, ‘would you go wading in sewage water?’ Because that’s exactly what it is,” says home improvement expert Bill McAnally. “Whatever is in your yard, it comes around the gutter and down the storm sewer... I see everything possible come floating into that river.”