Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Shahla Farzan

Weekend Newscaster

Shahla Farzan is a general assignment reporter and weekend newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio. She comes most recently from KBBI Public Radio in Homer, Alaska, where she covered issues ranging from permafrost thaw to disputes over prayer in public meetings. A science nerd to the core, Shahla spent six years studying native bees, eventually earning her PhD in ecology from the University of California-Davis. She has also worked as an intern at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento and a podcaster for BirdNote. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, combing flea markets for tchotchkes, and curling up with a good book. 

Ways to Connect

Shirley, an 80-pound Alpine milking goat, inspects a yoga student at Green Finned Hippy Farm on September 15, 2018.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Shirley isn’t familiar with the concept of personal space.

The 80-pound Alpine milking goat wanders around the yoga class, closely inspecting the other participants and occasionally stepping on a stray finger.

“I guess Shirley is going to help me demonstrate this next pose,” said instructor Alicia Davis, as the goat parks herself at the front of the class.

Josh Davis tends to his American mulefoot hogs on his farm in Pocahontas, Illinois on September 15, 2018.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Josh Davis likes to name his pigs after flowers: Petunia, Iris, Violet and Daisy.

That’s not the only thing that sets him apart as a hog farmer.

For the past three years, Davis and his wife, Alicia, have been raising one of the rarest pig breeds in the world on their farm in Pocahontas, Illinois. The American mulefoot hog was a popular breed in the Midwest in the early 1900s, but now, there are only a few hundred left. The Davises are among a small group of farmers hoping to revive the breed by putting it back on the menu.

Volunteer carpenters from Builder's Bloc frame the new home in Wildwood on September 29, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

The tap of Mike Wheeler’s hammer echoes through the forest, as he helps frame the walls of a new home in Wildwood.

Wheeler is one of a dozen carpenters volunteering to build a home for a returning veteran and his family. The project, which began in August, is the culmination of a years-long effort to provide a mortgage-free home for U.S. Army veteran and St. Louis native Heath Howes, who was severely wounded while serving in Afghanistan.

iStock

Julie Monroe is accustomed to seeing deer around her Kirkwood neighborhood, but not this many.

On a recent evening, Monroe and her son counted 17 deer on the drive home from Manchester.

“It was dark outside, so we don’t know how many were beyond our vision,” she said.

Attendees receive informational materials at the 2017 community health fair, organized by 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis.
100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis

The organization 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis will host its 16th annual community health fair this weekend.

The event, held at Harris-Stowe State University, will feature a range of free health screenings for all ages, including blood pressure, cholesterol, hearing and vision tests. Organizers say the goal is to encourage community members to think more about their own health and wellness.

Lawyers for Friendship Village retirement facility say the community’s decision to turn away the couple was due to the “faith-based nature of the organization.”
Friendship Village

Lawyers for Friendship Village have asked a federal court to dismiss a same-sex couple's discrimination lawsuit against the St. Louis County retirement community.

In a response filed Friday, lawyers for Friendship Village deny the facility discriminated against Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance on the basis of sex. The lawyers argue that the retirement community denied the couple housing based on the organization's religious convictions.

In denying their housing application in July 2016, the senior living community in Sunset Hills mailed the couple a copy of its “cohabitation policy,” which defines marriage as between a man and a woman as it is “understood in the Bible.”

The Arch lights will be turned off from Sept. 17 to Sept. 30, 2018.
Jason Lusk | Flickr

The lights illuminating the Gateway Arch will go dark for two weeks beginning Monday.

The decision is part of a biannual effort to avoid disrupting bird migrations along the Mississippi Flyway — a critical route used by more than 300 North American bird species. Light pollution from upward-facing spotlights can disorient birds that migrate at night and cause them to collide with buildings.

The Boys & Girls Club of St. Louis broke ground on the Teen Center of Excellence on September 13, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Sept. 13 at 3:50 p.m., to include information from Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

Four years after protests rocked Ferguson, a nonprofit is expanding youth services in the area.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis broke ground on a teen center in Ferguson, Thursday morning. The $12.4-million facility will be located on West Florissant Avenue, less than half a mile from the spot where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in August 2014.

Festivalgoers explore LouFest 2017.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Local businesses are stepping up to lend a hand to LouFest vendors after the event was canceled unexpectedly this week.

Festival organizers called off the event early Wednesday morning, citing “financial hurdles” and a rainy weekend forecast. Vendors and musicians, many of whom had paid hefty registration fees, were left wondering if they would be able to recoup their costs.

Beverly Nance and Mary Walsh pose for a portrait at their home in Shrewsbury on Aug. 28, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

After Mary Walsh and Beverly Nance were married in 2009, they thought their right to live together as a couple was secure.

Now the two women are at the center of a landmark legal case against a St. Louis County retirement community. The same-sex couple was denied housing at Friendship Village in 2016 on the basis of a “Cohabitation Policy” that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, “as marriage is understood in the Bible.”

St. Louis resident Megan Vitale and her nine-year-old daughter Sophia, who has cerebral palsy, participated in the Ride to Unite event on September 1, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

When Erika Wolf was young, she loved riding her bike.

But when she was 11, she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa — a rare genetic disorder that causes a person to lose their vision over time.

Wolf is now blind, but she hasn’t stopped cycling. This is her second year riding a tandem bike in “Ride to Unite,” an annual event that pairs champion cyclists racing in the Gateway Cup with riders who have disabilities. The goal, say organizers, is to help make cycling a more inclusive sport.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge, built in 1951, is a major thoroughfare connecting Illinois and downtown St. Louis.
Sarah Kellogg | St. Louis Public Radio

The Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge will be closed for a year, beginning Monday.

Both directions of the bridge over the Mississippi River, connecting St. Louis and East St. Louis,  will be shut down as a part of a construction project led by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The $24.3 million project includes the demolition and replacement of a smaller, nearby bridge that spans I-55 and I-64.

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s incarceration rate for women is among the highest in the country. 

The majority of these women have children, yet little research has examined the effects of incarceration on mothers specifically.

The emerald ash borer was first detected in Missouri in 2008. Since then, it has spread to 53 counties.
Mark Smith | Flickr

An invasive beetle is spreading rapidly across the state.

This week, the Missouri Department of Conservation reported the emerald ash borer appeared in 11 more counties in 2018, bringing the total number of affected counties in the state to 53. The larvae of the metallic green beetle burrow under the bark of ash trees and kill them within a few years.

Joe Weissmann, left, takes a smell test with Wash U medical resident Pawina Jiramongkolchai after completing smell training on August 1, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Recovering your sense of smell doesn’t happen overnight.

Since March, St. Louis Public Radio has been following a research study at Washington University designed to understand whether you can train the brain how to smell again. Using a technique known as “smell training,” researchers hope to reverse permanent smell loss.


The study examined over 580,000 patient records collected over a 20-year period and found women were more likely to survive a heart attack when treated by a female doctor than a male doctor.
Maria Fabrizio | NPR

Doctors have long known that women in the U.S. have a higher risk of dying from heart attacks than men.

The reasons driving this gender gap in survival, however, have perplexed researchers. A study led in part by Washington University suggests the gender of the attending doctor may play a role. Women were more likely to survive a heart attack when treated by a female doctor than a male doctor.

Illinois Republican Congressman Rodney Davis, left, and Ivanka Trump discuss workforce development in Godfrey on August 8, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

First Daughter Ivanka Trump made a public appearance in the Metro East Wednesday morning to highlight the importance of preparing young people for technical careers.

Trump, who serves as an advisor to the president, participated in a roundtable discussion on workforce development at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey. The discussion focused primarily on apprenticeships and training opportunities for jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree, such as welding or plumbing.

Marcus Butt | Getty Images

When Mike McClain pictured retirement, he thought of deserts and canyons.

The 66-year-old had planned to leave the workforce this year and spend more time outdoors, hiking and camping. That was before he was laid off from his job in telecommunications in 2009.

LA Johnson | NPR

Washington University will host a free public symposium on gun violence prevention this week.

The second annual Larry Lewis Health Policy Symposium will bring together experts specializing in gun violence research from a public health and policy perspective. Organizers say the goal is to reduce gun violence in St. Louis, a city with one of the highest rates of gun-related deaths in the country.

Julia Berndt kneels on the forest floor and picks up a crushed eggshell from an experimental bird nest.

The Webster Groves High School senior has spent nearly three months working at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center near Eureka. The summer program pairs St. Louis-area students with scientists who help them design their own independent-research projects.

Berndt is studying how controlled fires — also known as prescribed burns — affect the predators that eat bird eggs.

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