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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 New Hampshire Public Radio, WFUV in New York, PRX Remix, and HowSound.

Stories filed by Zach Hirsch

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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. 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

The North Country's health, measured online

Blood pressure, cholesterol, weight - doctors check all of these indicators to see whether their patients are healthy. Zooming out a bit, how would you measure the health of an entire region?

One group of advocates intends to do just that, with a new website called the North Country Health Compass. It's a project by a Fort Drum-based planning agency.  Go to full article
The Canton Merchants Association hopes to put more retail shops and eateries on Main Street. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/29781788@N00/8687082133/">wabisabi2015</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
The Canton Merchants Association hopes to put more retail shops and eateries on Main Street. Photo: wabisabi2015, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Merchants to give downtown Canton a new spark

There's something missing on Main Street in Canton: it doesn't feel "downtown" enough. That's the concern among some local business owners in the village.

So a handful of them teamed up to form the Canton Merchants Association.  Go to full article
The Plattsburgh Cardinals after their big win on Saturday. Photo via <a href="http://www.gocardinalsports.com/index.aspx?path=whockey">SUNY Plattsburgh</a>.
The Plattsburgh Cardinals after their big win on Saturday. Photo via SUNY Plattsburgh.

SUNY Plattsburgh: the other big North Country victory

While Clarkson was duking it out for the Division I championship on Sunday, the Division III Women's Ice Hockey team at SUNY Plattsburgh was already celebrating.

Over the weekend, the Cardinals beat Norwich University, 9-2, for their third national title.  Go to full article
Austin's 6th Street was closed off to cars so that the thousands of SXSW "pilgrims" could mill about. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Austin's 6th Street was closed off to cars so that the thousands of SXSW "pilgrims" could mill about. Photo: Zach Hirsch

The North Country, represented at SXSW!

Each year, thousands of people flock to Austin, Texas, for SXSW (South by Southwest), a set of music, film, and interactive festivals.

Zach Hirsch was our person on the ground for the music part. All last week, he was snapping photos, recording sounds, sampling the scene, and keeping an eye out for musicians from our region.

Zach is now safely back in the North Country, and he joined Martha Foley in the studio for a little debrief.  Go to full article

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