Sarah McCammon

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.

House lawmakers in South Carolina have voted to slash funding for two of the state's largest public colleges in retaliation for the introduction of books with gay themes into the schools' freshman reading programs.

In a mobile classroom — basically a trailer outfitted with a desk and some chairs — music teacher Chris Miller works with a group of active kindergartners dressed in green and khaki school uniforms. He teaches them the basics: musical concepts, artists and styles of music.

"Everybody repeat after me," he says. "Wade in the water." Kids sing back, "Wade in the water."

Broadlawns Medical Center has been serving low-income residents of Des Moines, Iowa, and the surrounding countryside for decades. Now there's a twist in Broadlawns' mission as a public hospital: helping people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

On a recent Saturday morning, Jerrine Sanford traveled half an hour from the small town of Runnells to get her insurance questions answered at a hospital-run event.

Sanford, 47, is out of work because of a back injury. She's worried about the law's requirement that everyone have health insurance or pay a penalty.

Drought is mostly seen as a bad thing — and for good reason. It dries up crops, destroys landscaping and stops ships from moving. But even the lack of rain clouds has a bright side.

Good For Grapes

Last summer it seemed like all Midwestern farmers were upset over the lack of rain. But not all of them were; those growing grapes were embracing the drought.

Early in-person voting has begun in Iowa, the first swing state to open polling sites.

Residents of the battleground state can now vote in person at their local county auditors' offices or turn them in by mail. Some areas will offer additional satellite locations.

At the Polk County Auditor's office in downtown Des Moines Thursday morning, a line of voters stretched down the block as the door opened.

Peter Clay, 62, was among the many supporters of President Obama. He says he's volunteered for the campaign on his days off from his job as a zookeeper.

There goes Iowa again, always having to be first. The home of the first-in-the-nation caucuses is also the first swing state to begin early in-person voting in the presidential election.

On the heels of the quadrennial political extravaganzas, it's back to the day-to-day work of winning the election. On Friday, that means the focus returns to a pair of small-population states with relatively few electoral votes.

The day after he formally accepted his party's nomination, President Obama and an entourage including first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Biden were scheduled to campaign in Portsmouth, N.H., and at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

In another sign of Democrats' growing embrace of gay-rights issues, an Iowa man who gained national attention for his story of growing up with lesbian mothers was to address the party's national convention Thursday.

Zach Wahls became a bit of an Internet star last year after testifying against a proposed same-sex marriage ban before members of the Iowa House of Representatives. A video of his statement went viral online, garnering millions of views.

Mitt Romney has Clint Eastwood and that now-famous empty chair on his side. But the Republican presidential nominee isn't the only one getting entertainment industry shoutouts this week.

Actors Ashley Judd and Ben McKenzie were campaigning for President Obama in Iowa on Friday ahead of his latest campaign stop in the swing state.

With women's issues front and center again in the presidential campaign, a bus tour through several swing states kicked off Monday in opposition to President Obama's views on abortion.

At the same time, the Obama campaign launched a new TV ad — aimed at some of the same voters in some of the same key states — criticizing Republican Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, on the issue.

Iowans are famously nice — so nice, it seems, they'll let you hold a campaign event on their property even if they won't vote for you.

Hours after President Obama paid a visit to a central Iowa farm Tuesday afternoon, the farm owner's adult son issued a statement not exactly in line with the Obama campaign's talking points.

You know things are going badly when the person at the front of the room has to say, "This is not going well." The fireworks at Iowa's Republican State Convention began even before lunchtime Saturday. At one point during the day, the parliamentarian threatened to kick out the next person who tried to speak out of order.

If Saturday's convention is any indication, Mitt Romney may not be in for smooth sailing at this summer's national convention in Florida.

While Mitt Romney has a virtual lock on the Republican presidential nomination, fans of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas aren't quite giving up.

While they know he won't be president, they're still working to promote Paul's ideas. And they've started with state conventions, like the one in Iowa this weekend, where political observers are anticipating some fireworks.

It's still too early to predict whether the 2012 corn harvest will set a record, but many corn farmers say the prognosis for a bumper crop is looking pretty good right now.

U.S. farmers are planting more acres of corn this year than they have in any year since the Great Depression. And with a mild spring across much of the nation's Corn Belt, many are hoping this autumn's yield will be one for the record books.

A Crop That 'Will Knock Your Socks Off'

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Staying in the middle of the country, you might have heard that America's farmers are getting older. Something else you probably know: women tend to outlive men. So do the math and what do you get? More women in charge of land and some who aren't really sure how to take care of it. So as Iowa Public Radio's Sarah McCammon reports, female conservationists are reaching out to this growing group.