Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Over 50 people rallied in Springfield Tuesday night to protest efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Signs had phrases like "Stop Repeal" and "Healthcare is a Human Right." On Tuesday, a close vote in the U.S. Senate led to the first potential legislative steps in dismantling the law.

The rally was one of several taking place across the state. Organizers say they will continue efforts to draw attention to the proposed changes by telling the stories of those impacted. 

Cyndy Sims Parr / Flickr

The Land of Lincoln is the country's largest de facto nuclear waste dump.

Imagine you’re a farmer and it’s time to decide what to plant. You need information on supply, demand, prices, outlook -- information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, university extension services, even economists at the Federal Reserve.

In Rural Trump Country, Trade Policy Divides

Mar 20, 2017
CREDIT GRANT GERLOCK / Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

Bottles of Roundup on a shelf.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

After court documents unsealed Tuesday raised questions about its research methods, chemical giant Monsanto says it did not ghostwrite a 2000 study on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its flagship pesticide Roundup.

Man standing in front of a tent full of chickens.
Bryan Thomson / Harvest Public Media

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

A woman at the farmers market buying flowers.
The Land Connection

CHAMPAIGN, IL - The Land Connection's  Mastering the Farmers’ Market series in Champaign and Springfield continues this month with workshops designed to help farmers’ market vendors build their brand, attract more customers, and explore small business basics.

Money Matters at the Farmers’ Market in March will cover small business budgeting strategies from local experts and the ways that new technologies can help market vendors improve payment options for their customers, track sales more effectively, and run their booth more efficiently.

NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Memorial Behavioral Health will host two opportunities for the public to receive training to learn how to identify and respond to people showing signs of mental illness and substance abuse.

Kristofer Husted/Harvest Public Media

Liz Graznak runs an organic farm in Jamestown, Missouri, which she calls Happy Hollow Farm. She sells her vegetables to local restaurants, in CSA boxes and at the farmer’s market.  But eight years ago, after falling in love with the idea of growing her own local produce, the farm she runs today looked like a near-impossible dream.


A group of Illinois legislators are pushing an agenda intended to help farmers who sell at local markets.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.


Fantasy farming gives high school students from western Illinois a chance to learn firsthand about the guesswork and gambles that farmers make every year.


“It’s almost like picking a fantasy football team,” said Troy Coziahr, Manager of the Monsanto Learning Center, a 480 acre research farm just south of Monmouth.

“They’re drafting their team and the hybrid is like the quarterback, right? That’s the first choice you‘re going to make. Nitrogen is kind of like the running back. That’s carrying the load.”

Woman shopping produce at Farmer's Market
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Lindsay Record has been Executive Director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance for more than a decade.  Her tenure witnessed a renewed interest on local food and sustainability.  And one of the places that was most visible was at farmer’s markets.

But the crowds have begun to taper off, at markets in Springfield and other locations in the state. 

Wikimedia / Damonsacks

Health reporter for The State Journal-Register, Dean Olsen, has been looking at the hurdles in place when it comes to healthcare access, many as a result of the state's budget problems. 

 A doctor handed Melissa Morris her first opioid prescription when she was 20 years-old. She had a cesarean section to deliver her daughter, and to relieve post-surgical pain her doctor sent her home with Percocet. On an empty stomach, she took one pill and laid down on her bed.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh my god. Is this legal? How can this feel so good?’” Morris recalls.

Richard Sitler / The Southern Illinoisan

No permits for horizontal hydraulic fracturing have been issued since the Illinois Department of Natural Resources started taking applications in the fall of 2014. Even so, there were some in Grayville who believed that a well was fracked in October under the new law. 

Rachel Otwell

A group of nuns in Springfield is participating in a long-term medical study. For those involved, it’s another way to serve others.

A guy who covers agriculture in the West who’s never put a skinned, sliced, battered, deep-fried bull testicle into a cup of cocktail sauce and then into his mouth? I couldn’t let it stand.

They’re known by many names: lamb fries, bull fries, Montana tenders, huevos de toro, cowboy caviar. In my corner of Colorado, they’re Rocky Mountain oysters and I somehow coaxed myself into thinking I needed to try them to be more a part of the place I live, to be a true blue Coloradan.

During a time contentious rhetoric abounds and many people say they have fears about the worst of humanity, here's a story about a man making a life-saving sacrifice for another - someone he didn't even know:

Long before European settlers plowed the Plains, corn was an important part of the diet of Native American tribes like the Omaha, Ponca and Cherokee.

Today, members of some tribes are hoping to revive their food and farming traditions by planting the kinds of indigenous crops their ancestors once grew.

Forensic pathology is the branch of medicine that focuses on finding a legal cause of death. It's a field that's been glorified by shows like Bones and CSI. For Illinois native Dr. Gary Cumberland - it's been his life's work. His book about his three decades-long career is called 'My Life With Death.' We caught up with him, and Dr. Cumberland begins the conversation talking about why he thinks forensic pathology is the most interesting, yet least understood field in medicine:

Monarch Butterfly
Adele Hodde / Illinois Department of Natural Resources

The Monarch butterfly population has dropped dramatically in recent years, and the federal government is now considering endangered species protection for the butterfly. 

Monarchs travel through Illinois each year as part of their migration. Earlier this month, conservation experts and state officials held a summit to discuss the state's plan for monarch conservation. 

c/o Amanda Walenga

Camden is an 8 year old who lives in Springfield. She just started 3rd grade, likes riding horses and eating tacos, and playing with her younger sister. For the most part, she’s a happy normal kid. But she also happens to be one who was born with health problems like cleft palate, a hole in her heart and scoliosis.

We all learned it as kids: Old MacDonald has a farm and on that farm he has a cow that says “moo.” But why? Why do cows moo?

Whenever I’m out reporting in the field I can tell many ranchers have a powerful connection with their cattle – they can almost understand them. But researchers today are trying to figure out exactly what cows are saying.

I drove out to the beef research farm at the University of Missouri Columbia to meet cattle geneticist Jared Decker and ask him: What’s in a moo?

  The final part of our Harvest Desk series on the meatpacking industry:

  A series on the meatpacking industry continues from our Harvest Desk:


Our Harvest Desk begins a 3 part look at the meatpacking industry:

Harvest Public Media

  Monarch butterflies are disappearing. Scientists agree that in the last 20 years, populations of the black and orange insect have been in precipitous decline. But there's much less certainty on what’s causing them to vanish.

Schools across the U.S. served more than 5 billion meals in the national school lunch program to millions of students last year. Each one of the meals has to meet federal rules for nutrition. Now, those rules are up for debate and Congress could impose changes on the cafeteria.

Aubrey Fletcher knew she wanted to work on a dairy farm ever since she was a little girl.

“I do remember my mom asking, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want to do?’” Fletcher recalls.

Fletcher knew the work was tough, she grew up milking cows every day. After college she and her husband wanted to return to his family farm, but it wasn’t making financial sense.

“The farm couldn’t necessarily  provide both of us with salaries,” says Fletcher. “So we thought, ‘Why not take our premium milk and take that a little further?’”