Saturday, February 23, 2013

Universal preschool would help many rural areas, but Obama overstates the potential benefits

Providing preschool education to every American child would be a great boon to rural areas, which often lack it, but President Obama "exaggerates the potential benefits," said this week:
  • Obama says every dollar invested in "high quality" preschool can return "seven dollars later on" but that is based on an economic analysis of a small, two-year program that targeted disadvantaged youth in Michigan. Obama is proposing a one-year program for "every single child in America."
  • Obama also points to the success of universal preschool programs in Georgia and Oklahoma, saying "studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own." But the oldest students from the Georgia program — the first state to offer universal preschool — are now just 20 years old, and those in Oklahoma are even younger. So proclamations about the ability to hold jobs or form more stable families, for example, are premature.
For the full analysis and background, click here.

UPDATE, Feb. 26: "Studies suggest the power of well-funded programs targeting specific communities. Still, questions remain about the ability to scale and generalize these benefits nationwide through expanded policy," concludes Journalist's Resource, a service of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.

Contest invites rural teachers, students to submit videos comparing their community with another

March 15 is the deadline for teachers and students in rural America to submit videos comparing and contrasting their community with a rural community in another part of the country or the world. Discovery Education and the Foundation for Rural Service have launched the Connected Community Contest "to demonstrate the power of broadband and digital resources in bringing the world to classrooms and providing students with skills needed to be college and career ready," the groups said in a news release. The grand prize is a grant for classroom technology. (Photo: Discovery Education, a unit of the Discovery Channel)

“Rural schools are increasingly feeling pressure to keep pace with their urban counterparts, which traditionally have had better access to learning technology and high-speed broadband,” foundation President Elizabeth Crocker said in the release. “This contest serves as another way to highlight the unique challenges rural communities face in providing cutting-edge technologies to their students and provides an opportunity for us to reward the innovations that those challenges have spurred.” The foundation was created by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association.

The teacher-led contest is open to classes in grades 4-12 from schools located in rural communities of 50,000 or less as defined by the Department of Agriculture. To participate in the program, classes visit the contest website, where they will get access to Discovery Education's videostreaming service and other digital resources to identify rural communities around the world; research and explore their culture, lifestyle and economy; and create a submission that educates others about their own community and demonstrates how it is similar or different from a rural community in a different part of the country or world. Submissions can include images, video, audio, graphics or informational text and are to be in the final form of a produced video or video-captured presentation.

Are your rural schools closer to this essayist's dream, or to his nightmare?

"Low regard for education is an unfortunate part of local history for many rural communities across the U.S.," Timothy Collins writes for the Daily Yonder. "It seems we have all too often taken a minimalist and pragmatic approach to rural public schools. Vestiges of a deep disrespect for too much “book learning” and anything that smacks of intellectualism are all too common. Many rural schools operate with minimal resources. Local property tax funding mechanisms are disastrous. State funding mechanisms are often inequitable. Some communities can’t – or won’t – tax themselves for better schools."

Collins' essay begins with his nightmare about guidance counselors going for the lowest common denominator, but he wakes up and offers some hope: "By the growing light of day, I see things in a new way. For generations, rural schools – whatever their limitations – educated teachers, nurses, lawyers, physicians, and other professionals and skilled workers who helped provide community leadership. Others left and did well elsewhere. Those who decided to stay tried to do their best. Maybe they made some well-meaning decisions that turned out to be bad. Ever so slowly, their decisions – well-meaning or not – ran up against the political, economic, and cultural forces of a nation and a world that rendered their community and school into the stuff of my nightmare."

Collins, assistant director for research, policy, outreach, and sustainability at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University, concludes: "Even if we can’t overcome the financial obstacles for rural schools, we need to encourage children to do their best with high expectations that are tailored to their needs, potentials, and desires to show what they can do for themselves and their communities. Here’s my dream: We need to appeal to what’s best in children and the communities that are responsible for their future. With positive support, they can, and will, meet the challenges of high expectations. The alternative is nightmarish." (Read more)

Friday, February 22, 2013

45 years after RFK tour, poverty and grim coal industry forecast challenge Eastern Kentucky

The weekly Hazard Herald in southeastern Kentucky used the 45th anniversary of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's “poverty tour” through the region, months before his assassination, as a point of reference for the region's chronic economic problems and its more current challenges, caused mainly by closings and layoffs at coal mines.

After two days and 200 miles in the region, Kennedy spoke about what he had seen: “There is no real hope for the future amongst many of these people who work hard in the coal mines, and now that the coal mines shut down, they have no place to go. There’s no hope for the future, there’s no industry moving in." He could say much the same today, Herald reporter Amelia Holiday suggested. The region's coal industry is declining because of depleted resources, Obama administration regulations and, primarily, cheap natural gas.
Kennedy, center, walked in Hazard in February 1968. (Herald photo by Paul Gordon)
Holiday noted that poverty rates in Perry County dropped by about half from 1960 to 2011, but the rate is still 25 percent, while the Kentucky and national rates are 19 and 16 percent, respectively. And the figures for most adjoining counties and the rest of Central Appalachia are even worse. She cites Appalachian Regional Commission figures: In 1960, 214 of the counties in official Appalachia were chronically distressed, and 98 of them, or 46 percent, were in Central Appalachia. Today, only 81 are distressed, but Central Appalachia has 66 of them, or 81 percent.

Justin Maxson of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development "said he does not think things have improved in the region with any kind of equality, which might be why many living in this region may not think there has been much improvement since the '60s," Holiday writes. "He thinks there are three main things that need to be aligned in the area for things to start improving: greater investments in the right things and more effective use of funds, support and growth of small businesses, and growth of stronger and more effective local leaders."

In an editorial that also mentioned the RFK anniversary, the Herald called for some of the coal severance tax that is now divided between the state and coal counties to be placed in trust for the future: "Our region has suffered for too long from poor decisions; it’s time now to make a wise one."

Kennedy finished his film interview with sentiment that reflects today's viewpoints, writes Holiday: “It seems to me that [in] this country . . . as wealthy as we are, that this is an intolerable condition. It reflects on all of us. We can do things all over the rest of the world, but I think we should do something for our people here in our own country.” (Read more)

Male cheerleader at small rural school makes news

Male cheerleaders are common at colleges, but rare at rural schools, so it's news when one breaks the gender barrier, as Collin Hadley did at Koshkonong High School in south-central Missouri. So Jennifer Davidson, news producer, reporter and student trainer at KSMU in Springfield, did a story on him. She began: "This is a story about following your dreams, even though you might be swimming against the current." (Photo by Davidson)

Hadley was shy, but loved to tumble and do flips. His gymnastics instructor suggested he cheerlead, but he didn't bite until two girls asked him and a friend to do it. He tried out, and was not only accepted, but was nominated as an All-American and qualified for a trip to London, where he performed in a New Year's parade. His community, population 212, helped him raise the money for the trip. (Read more)

Weekly gets two reactions to front-page story on gay wedding: negative locally, positive globally

The thrice-weekly Laurel Leader-Call in southeast Mississippi lost some local support but gained a lot around the country after it published a front page story about the mock marriage of two women, one with advanced brain cancer, owner Jim Cegielski tells news-media blog

"We didn’t know the reaction was going to be as vicious and hateful and as widespread as it was," Cegielski said. "In the first week, before the backlash to the backlash, the calls were 100 percent negative," and 40 subscribers canceled and two advertisers pulled out.

Then Ashton Pittman, a student at the University of Southern Mississippi in nearby Hattiesburg, wrote about the episode on his Deep South Progressive blog and it was tweeted by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. Cegielski said the paper has added 100 subscribers, all outside Mississippi, and a dog groomer as an advertiser. The comments in the paper's public forum reflect similar support.

Cegielski, who bought the 7,500-circulation paper's name and subscriber list after running it out of business last year with a weekly he started, told blogger Jim Romenesko that he would write about the outside support in tomorrow's paper, so this item will be updated.

Lobbying by hospitals, many of them rural, persuade GOP governors to expand Medicaid

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's surprising announcement that he would use federal health-care reform money to expand the Medicaid program to households earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level "means the dominoes are falling," says Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a consumer group that lobbied for the law. He told The New York Times, “The message is, ‘Even though I may not have supported and even strongly opposed the Affordable Care Act, it would be harmful to the citizens of my state if I didn’t opt into taking these very substantial federal dollars to help people who truly need it.’”

Seven Republican governors (of states outlined in Times map below) have said they will expand Medicaid, partly to protect rural hospitals and low-income people.
"The change of heart for some Republican governors has come after vigorous lobbying by health industry players, particularly hospitals," the Times notes. "Hospital associations around the country signed off on Medicaid cuts under the health care law on the assumption that their losses would be more than offset by new paying customers, including many insured by Medicaid. . . . Every few days, state hospital associations and advocates for poor people issue reports asserting that the economic benefits of expanding Medicaid would outweigh the costs." (Read more)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Teen pregnancy declines more slowly in rural areas

The national teen pregnancy rate is lower than ever, but "The teen birth rate in rural counties is nearly one-third higher than the rest of the nation" and is declining more slowly than in metropolitan areas, USA Today reports, citing what is says is a "first-of-its-kind analysis by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy."

"The prevailing stereotype is that teen parenthood is primarily an urban and suburban phenomenon," Bill Albert, chief program officer for the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, told reporter Michelle Healy. "The landscape of teen childbearing is more open spaces and fresh air than gridlock and high-rises." And that applies across all ethnic and racial groups, the data show.

Researchers used National Center for Health Statistics data for 2010, the most recent available (2011 figures are still being double-checked). From 1990 to 2010, the teen birth rate in rural counties dropped 32 percent, but that was much less than in major metro areas (49 percent) and suburbs (40 percent). The national rate dropped to 34 per 1,000 teenage girls from 60 per 1,000; the rural rate was 43 per 1,000.

The reasons? Availability of birth control in rural areas "lags far behind availability for teens living in urban and metro areas," said Julia De Clerque,​​ a research fellow and investigator at the University of North Carolina Sheps Center for Health Services Research. Also, "For many rural families, teen pregnancy and parenting are cultural norms, repeated generation after generation," said Josie Weiss, a nursing professor at Florida Atlantic University. (Read more)

World agency set to give U.S. virtual clean bill of health for mad-cow disease, boosting beef industry

The Scientific Commission for the World Organization for Animal Health has recommended that the U.S. beef supply be labeled at "negligible risk" for mad-cow disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

"This is a significant achievement for the United States, American beef producers and businesses, and federal and state partners who work in coordination to maintain a system of three interlocking safeguards against BSE that protect our public and animal health," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "Being classified as negligible risk for BSE . . . will also greatly support our efforts to increase exports of U.S. beef and beef products." (Read more)

Corn Belt expands northwest into marginal grassland, pinching perennial-crop biofuel hopes

High corn and soybean prices are driving conversion of grassland, some of it marginal, to cropland in the western Corn Belt, posing the threat of soil erosion and limiting the possibility for perennial bioenergy crops such as switchgrass, according to research recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Map shows relative change from grassland in 2006 to corn or soybeans in 2011)

The researchers at South Dakota State University used land-cover data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service to analyze changes in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska from 2006 to 2011. They found that 1.3 million acres had been converted from grass to crops. The Corn Belt is expanding northwest, and the last such shift came in "the 1920s and '30s, during rapid mechanization of U.S. agriculture," Bob Steever of Brownfield reports.

The conversion "was concentrated mostly in North Dakota and South Dakota, east of the Missouri River," Steever reports. Not only is much of the former grassland subject to erosion, it has "vulnerability to drought," the researchers write. The expansion is also "posing a threat to water- fowl breeding in the Prairie Pothole Region" (mainly in the eastern Dalotas, southwest Minnesota and north-central Iowa) and other wetlands. "Longer-term land cover trends from North Dakota and Iowa indicate that recent grassland conversion represents a persistent shift in land use rather than short-term variability in crop rotation patterns." (Read more) It appears likely to continue; today, the Department of Agriculture forecast record corn and soybean crops in 2013.

One way to follow up on this story would be to check with your local Farm Service Agency office about signups for the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers not to till marginal land.

Report faults states' funding, help for local schools

"A recent report commissioned by Congress found that states don’t fund education fairly across jurisdictions, need to do a better job intervening in struggling school districts and encouraging better-qualified teachers to enter the profession — and stay," Ben Wieder reports for Stateline. The problems are often worse in poor, rural districts.

As he released the report, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “In far too many communities, in far too many cities, in far too many states, there are inequities.” The report " calls for tying federal aid to requirements that states adopt more equitable funding formulas, promote greater diversity within all schools, train and retain better teachers and provide quality preschooling to all students," Wieder reports.

Entrepreneurship, a key to rural development, can be greatly aided by small-business incubators

Experts agree that one way to encourage economic development in rural areas is to encourage entrepreneurship, and one increasingly popular way to do that is with a small-business incubator -- a facility where start-up can get cheap office space, share services and even share ideas.

The Ozarks Small Business Incubator in West Plains, Mo., which was started after a survey by the Small Buisiness Administration found that surrounding Howell County had one of the nation's greatest concentrations of people who wanted to start a business, reports Jennifer Davidson of KSMU in Springfield.

The incubator's director, Tony Aid, told Davidson that research shows that 80 percent of small businesses fail after five years, but those that started in incubators have a five-year failure rate of only 20 percent. And small businesses are becoming the key to rural development, he said: "Looking into the future, we don’t see that many big companies coming to rural areas. We’re not giving up on them. It’s possible, but they’re going to be hard to get. So, the way to grow our economy in the future is to grow local businesses that will create jobs, that will raise income, and that will make the whole economy more vibrant." (Read more)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More women joining ranks of rural fire units, many of which have been running short of volunteers

Women are coming to the rescue of rural fire departments that are running short of volunteers, joining a "traditionally male-dominated endeavor," reports Jayette Bolinski for the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill. (SJ-R photo by David Spencer)

Bolinski's example is KaCey Noe, above, who passed the "physically and emotionally draining" strength and agility test required by the Lincoln Rural Fire Department. "She gets mixed reactions from the public on calls," the reporter notes, quoting her: "Sometimes, yes, there are people who gravitate toward me. And also there are the ones who gravitate away. Some of them honestly don’t recognize that I am a firefighter, that I am a legit member of this department."

John Swan, president of the Illinois Firefighters Association, told Bolinski that many more women have become volunteer firefighters in the last five to 10 years: “I think women think they may not play a role in fire service, but they do. . . . The volunteer fire service around this state is really in a dire need of maintaining its staffing for volunteers in these communities. We’re getting less and less every year because of the time commitment and the economic conditions where both people [in a household] are working, and not just everybody can be a firefighter, including men.” (Read more)

Companies offer information-technology assistance from rural locations

Last call for economic-data reporting workshop

There’s still time to sign up for a free workshop in Louisville from 2-5 p.m. on Feb. 27: Breaking Local Stories with Economic Data.

Presented by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, the free workshop will feature instructors Paul Overberg of USA Today and Jeannine Aversa, formerly of The Associated Press and now with the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. They will provide a road map to finding at least 15 local enterprise stories from government economic data. Examples will be specific to the Louisville region, but applicable anywhere.

Click here to sign up for this free workshop, which precedes the Investigative Reporters and EditorsCAR Conference, Feb. 28-March 3. Conference registration is not required to attend the free workshop, but conference hotel rates may still be available at $129 a night, plus tax.

Some in Appalachia have prison buyer's remorse

"Rural communities, especially in Central Appalachia, recruit prisons hoping to land jobs. But some Eastern Kentucky leaders who got prisons now question their decision, saying the jobs haven’t materialized and the prisons drain local resources," reports the Daily Yonder, introducing a story by Sylvia Ryerson of WMMT-FM  in Whitesburg, Ky.

In the 1990s, a third "of all rural prison construction nationwide occurred in four of the most economically depressed regions in the country . . . the West Texas Plains, South Central Georgia, the Mississippi Delta and the coalfields of Central Appalachia," Ryerson reports, citing Department of Agriculture research and noting three more coalfield prisons have been built since. (Click on map for larger version)
While the prisons were touted as job creators, the federal Bureau of Prisons' tough employment standards eliminated most of the unemployed and underemployed people in McCreary County, Kentucky, on the Tennessee border. "Of the 300 and something employees that work at the prison, I don’t think we have over 25 or 30 local people that are working there," former county judge-executive Blaine Phillips told Ryerson. "And the others . . . they don’t chose to live here. It was not what they were telling us at first.”

Ryerson cites research through 2004 saying "We find no evidence that prison expansion has stimulated economic growth. In fact, we provide evidence that prison construction has impeded economic growth in rural counties that have been growing at a slow pace." (Read more)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Nascar (or, if you prefer, NASCAR) tries to add younger, urban and multicultural fans to rural base

Stock-car racing, which developed from moonshine runners in the hills of Southern Appalachia and still has a base of "older, rural white men," wants "younger, urban and multicultural" fans, Stuart Elliott reports for The New York Times. Fans will start seeing that this week on social media and in a big way at Sunday's Daytona 500 (where for the first time the pole sitter is a woman, Danica Patrick; photo by Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images).

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, which is no longer an association but keeps the name, perhaps to keep the name of the privately held company entirely in capital letters, changed advertising agencies last summer, moving from a firm in St. Louis to "a Madison Avenue giant, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, known for sophisticated work for blue-chip brands like American Express, Dove and I.B.M.," Elliott writes.

Kim Brink, managing director for brand, consumer and series marketing at Nascar, told Elliott that the agency's main office in New York is developing “a new brand direction and a new creative platform,” including Spanish-language commercials and greater emphasis on Nascar’s online offerings. "Nascar drivers are to contact fans and followers this week in social media like Facebook and Twitter to alert them the effort is coming," Elliott reports.       

Coal power plant shelved; Obama, natural gas cited

Plans to build one of "the cleanest coal-fired generators in the world" as the company put it, have been shelved. White Stallion Energy LLC blamed low natural-gas prices and the Obama administration's increased interest in fighting climate change, "But the company undermined its message somewhat and angered locals by fighting U.S. EPA limits on mercury emissions," Nathanial Gronewold reports for Environment & Energy News.

"Pronouncements by the administration -- most recently in the President's State of the Union message -- continue to indicate that additional regulatory barriers to such projects will be erected," Chief Operating Officer Randy Bird said in a statement. "In addition, even though the generation needs for the state of Texas continue to grow, the presently low price of natural gas has made the price of electricity from a new coal-fired generator uncompetitive at this time."

The 1,200-megawatt station was to be built in Matagorda County, south of Houston along the Gulf coast.

Interactive maps and graphic show drought impact

How badly were your state's crops hit by last year's drought, and how does that compare to neighboring states? New data from the Department of Agriculture, via, shows you quickly, with interactive maps. This one shows the relative impact of the drought; on the live map, you can see how it worsened through the year in each state by clicking on the state.
The maps also allow you to compare crop to crop and see how yields compared to recent years. Here's what you get when you click on the "Corn" button and then on Missouri:
For the story and interactive map, click here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Postal Service poll on Sat. delivery is questioned

The U.S. Postal Service says an online poll taken for it by Ipsos shows that about 80 percent of Americans, even in rural areas, favor its plan to end Saturday delivery of mail other than packages, but a close look calls the survey into question.

Because the poll was done via the Internet, it didn't include "the people who most depend on the Postal Service and Saturday delivery — those who aren’t online all the time, like seniors and people in rural areas without good broadband," Save the Post Office notes.

Unlike scientific, random-sample polls, this one used “a blended sample of panel and non-panel,” USPS said in its press release. It didn't explain those terms, but Save the Post Office does: "That means some of the people surveyed were recruited to participate. The Postal Service doesn’t provide any information about how the recruitment was done or who was selected to participate or what portion of the 1,000 people surveyed was pre-selected.  One can only imagine how the selection process might have skewed the results."

Save the Post Office also questions the questionnaire, saying it "includes questions that are framed in ways that inevitably affect how people responded.  The first question on the survey, for example, is: 'Before today, do you recall hearing anything about the financial losses that the Postal Service experienced last year, of approximately $15.9 billion?' The survey thus begins by presenting the participants with a huge deficit number, which undoubtedly inclines the average person to favor cost-cutting measures like ending Saturday delivery." (Read more)

What rural place voted for buses over highways?

The Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado's Western Slope is getting "the first bus rapid transit system in the country to serve a rural area," financed by an additional 0.4-cent sales tax residents voted to impose in 2008, Angie Schmitt reports for StreetsBlog, published by a nonprofit that supports mass transit and transportation systems friendly to bicyclists and pedestrians.

"About 32,000 people are interspersed throughout the valley in small towns like Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs, but the local economy revolves around the nearby resort town of Aspen," Schmitt writes. "Aspen’s hotels and restaurants attract workers from around the region, but people who toil in local service industry jobs have mostly been priced out of the housing near Aspen."
MapQuest image shows principal route of Roaring Fork Transit Authority
“People who wash pots and pans at the hotels in Aspen were driving 75 miles one way for the privilege of doing that,” Roger Millar of Smart Growth America said at the "New Partners for Smart Growth Conference" last week in Kansas City. Scmitt notes that Highway 82, the main route into Aspen, was widened to four lanes 20 years ago but is Colorado's most congested highway.

Now those folks will be able to take the bus. "The $40 million project will run buses every 10 minutes at rush hour, stopping nine times along the lengthy journey — a commuter express route," she writes. "It will also feature heated waiting stations with bathrooms." Schmitt's story mentions other examples of rural mass transit.

National parks prepare for sequestration cuts

As the March 1 federal sequestration draws closer and more likely, national parks are preparing to feel the sting of federal spending cuts. They would mean reductions in operating hours and services of national parks across the country, writes Lisa Rein of The Washington Post.

"The prospect of dirtier restrooms, sporadic grass mowing and litter pickup, and a shortage of rangers to answer questions and patrol, has set off a furious campaign by a coalition of park advocates, tourism officials and businesses from Maine to Wyoming," Rein said, adding that many argue cuts will hurt both conservation efforts and local, mostly rural  economies that are tied to the parks.

Rein provided examples: Yellowstone would delay its opening by three weeks, campgrounds and visitor centers along the Blue Ridge Parkway would close, and Washington, D.C., would see cuts in law enforcement, tree maintenance and rangers right before the substantial tourist draw of cherry blossom season.

Park advocates argue that the park system only accounts for one-fourteens of 1 percent of the national budget, while others call the concern "overblown" and argue that parks will simply suffer their share of federal cuts that are far-reaching enough to affect many national services. “The Obama administration likes to scare people and say, ‘We won’t be able to go to the parks,’ ” Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah told Rein. “It’s hogwash. There’s no reason we have to open the parks later. They’re going to have to do more with less.”  (Read More)

Kentucky fishing tournament will use nets and $20,000 in prizes to catch invasive Asian carp

Silver carp jump! (Photo: Chris Young, AP)
An unusual fishing tournament will be held in Kentucky next month to target an increasingly problematic influx of Asian carp. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has announced that it will hold the first such competition March 12-13, offering cash awards to fishers who catch the most carp with nets on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. There will be no entry fee and the $20,000 purse will be distributed among the top five finishers.

"The reason for this tournament is to remove as many Asian carp as possible; therefore, fishermen must harvest at least 2,000 pounds of Asian carp to qualify for a prize," the announcement said. Kentucky's tournament is a reaction to the much larger national problem of invasive Asian carp, which can kill native species and hurt fishing and boating industries. Read more here on the threat posed by Asian carp in the Mississippi River system.

"Asian carp are a threat to our native species and habitats because they compete with other fish for the plankton which forms the base of the good chain," state Fisheries Director Ron Brooks told Gary Garth for The Courier-Journal's outdoors column. Brooks explained that Asian carp can grow to be quite large--in one Missouri case, 111 pounds--and that they are prolific. "This is the first tournament, but we hope to have several this year," Brooks said. "We're trying to remove as many Asian carp as we can out of these lakes."