Jacob McCleland

Jake is a 2000 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. As Host Producer, McCleland coordinates all of KRCU's local programming; he works with hosts, producers, and audio engineers to enhance the quality of in-studio productions. Additionally, McCleland works with station staff and community volunteers to develop new ideas for programming on KRCU. He also records and produces feature stories that are heard locally during Morning Edition and All Thing Considered.

McCleland recently completed three years of service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama, where he worked with slash-and-burn farmers on methods to enhance crop production and prevent deforestation. He also hosted and produced a program on Panamanian radio called Allá en el campo which featured interviews and feature stories about sustainable agriculture techniques for rural farmers.

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As a young man, Elisha Pullen never imagined he would spend his days on the farm.

Growing up near rural Bell City in southeastern Missouri’s “Bootheel” region, Pullen longed to leave the farm and get an education.

“I grew up in the day and time when we had to do a lot of chopping and stuff like that. Hard labor,” Pullen said. “I’m going to college, I’m getting my degree and I’m going to work in the air conditioning.”

As a child, Robert Harris Jr. worked the cotton fields of southeastern Missouri’s bootheel. Like many sharecroppers’ children, he fled that life. Now, four decades later, the harvest is calling him again, this time to grow food for the needy in a bunch of community gardens in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

I met with Robert in a garden just outside a food pantry that distributes his produce. We poked through the lush patch of vegetables, full of plump yellow squash and green cucumbers. Soft-spoken and humble, Harris said he had a connection to plants from an early age.