This is a review of Radio Iowa’s top Human Interest stories of 2014. The 2014 World Food Prize was presented in October to plant scientist Sanjaya Rajaram with a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol.
The 71-year-old Rajaram is a protégé of World Food Prize founder, Norman Borlaug. “One thing I learned from him was that he was a highly determined person. He was not easy to give up. I mean, we would not always succeed and he’d keep insisting,” Rajaram said.
Rajaram worked with Borlaug in Mexico as he created disease-resistant strains of wheat which improved food security worldwide. Rajaram succeeded Borlaug as director of the wheat breeding program at CIMMYT and is credited with breeding 480 wheat varieties used in more than 50 countries.
In August, Radio Iowa caught up with a 17-year-old girl from Spencer as she was busy on the Iowa State Fairgrounds — handing out ribbons and trophies, posing for pictures and participating in a few competitions. Elizabeth Glover was crowned the 50th Iowa State Fair Queen. “I love meeting the people,” Glover says. “I mean it’s so fun, the different personalities that you meet. They’re so happy to see me. They’re just happy and I get happy when I see them so it’s just awesome.”
Glover, as queen of the 2014 Iowa State Fair, received a $2,800 college scholarship.
A restaurant in the central Iowa town of Ogden is serving the state’s best breaded pork tenderloin, according to a contest run by the Iowa Pork Producer’s Association. The Lucky Pig Pub and Grill won the 12th annual contest this year. Meanwhile, the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association chose the Brick City Grill in Ames as the winner of “Iowa’s Best Burger” contest.
In November, Radio Iowa introduced you to Jake Brown — who is the pot critic for the Denver Post in Colorado, where smoking marijuana is legal. The 31-year-old Brown grew up in Cedar Rapids and says he only smokes pot two or three times a week, sometimes less, and only takes a couple hits each time. “As I’ve started to get older, I use it more in the way you’d use a Swiss Army knife,” Browne explained. “So, if I need to smoke because I need something creative or I’m having a hard time going to sleep…but, really picking my spots and making sure that I’m fresh, so when I review something, I really get an idea how it will affect me.”
Browne got the job at the Post as the nation’s first newspaper pot critic by answering an ad on Facebook. He says he never dreamed he’d land — what many of his friends and readers call — “the best job ever.” Brown says he always thought he’d become a lawyer and jokes, now, he hopes he doesn’t need one.
That’s a look back at some of Radio Iowa’s Top Human Interest Stories of 2014.