Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With – Raptor Resource Project’s Dave Kester


Founded in 1988 by the late Bob Anderson, the Raptor Resource Project (RRP) is a non-profit that preserves and strengthens raptor populations, expands participation in raptor conservation, and educates people around the world about raptors and their habitats.

Photo courtesy of Raptor Resource Project

With the core goals of education, conservation, and research, RRP was at the forefront of peregrine falcon reintroduction to wild sites across the upper midwest, as well as some of the earliest web based “Bird Cams”, including the Decorah Eagles Cam that went viral beginning in 2011 (the camera started as a still image updated every 2 mintues in 2009). 

“DNF” Photo courtesy of Raptor Resource Project

While founder Bob Anderson was at the heart of everything that RRP did in it’s first two decades, it took a village of friends and enthusiasts to grow the organization and do the physical work of the organization. One of those folks is Decorah falconer Dave Kester, who joins us on this show to talk about all things RRP.

RRP’s Dave Kester with eyasses, 2021
Courtesy Raptor Resource Project

As a nonprofit, the Raptor Resource Project is governed by a board of directors, and depends on donors, research, and other programs for their annual budget. – You can support the incredible work of RRP at this link!

Find out more at:



“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming


Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With – New Minowa Players


Since 1975, New Minowa Players (NMP) have been creating community through theatre in Northeast Iowa. From the founding days of friends Bette Greedy, Donalee Burns, and Helen Schmidt meeting up to present true community productions wherever they could find a space, to almost half a century later featuring an annual season of 6 productions, NMP has built a theatrical legacy in rural Iowa. Join us on this episode with NMP’s Sarah Brandt and Molly Holkesvik to hear more about New Minowa Players and their 200th production!



NMP is celebrating their 200th production in November of 2023, with “Ye Olde Cabaret: New Minowa Players Throughout the Years”, a retrospective of productions and performers that have contributed over the past 48 years. The show is being directed by Molly Holkesvik and Alison Blake, with a cast of 25+ local performers telling stories about NMP, including a glimpse into its history from one of the founding “mothers”, Donalee Burns. The show will be performed November 2, 3, and 4, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. and November 5, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. at the NMP Theatre. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under – available online or at the Oneota Community Food Co-op.



“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With Decorah – Fall 2023 Inspired – Aryn H Nichols


Aryn Henning Nichols joins Benji for a rundown of the Fall 2023 issue of Inspire(d) Magazine – which also marks 16 years of Inspire(d)! Aryn likes to say the magazine is finally old enough to drive – even though it’s been driving our lives for 16 years! Truly – we’re grateful for everyone that has made this “experiment in positive news” possible – readers, advertisers, our amazing contributors, and so many others – A huge “Thank You”!



Listen in to hear about the great stories featured in this issue, including community builders like Laura Gentry, Julia Borgen, Caitlyn Konze, and Wendy Lickteig. We also have feature stories on Decorah Native Elena Rue and Storymine, our “Sum of Your Business” La Rana Bistro, Postville School Districts Therapy Dogs, a feature about all that is happening at the International Owl Center in Houston, MN, our conservationist feature on Biophilia, 16 tips on finding inspiration, and so much more! 


Tune in, read on, and spread the word – thanks for being Inspire(d)!

Become a member of Inspire(d) to support our work today.



“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With – Mission Green LLC / Good Shepherd Church


On today’s show we welcome Liz & Jim Fritz, both (mostly!) “retired” music educators from Decorah, and longtime members of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. As it turns out, Liz & Jim also have a long track record of home improvement, efficiency, and sustainability projects, stemming from lifelong interests and opportunities to make their corner of the world a better place. Listen in to hear how they were able to help their hometown congregation forge the right partnerships to take on a major remodeling project while becoming a carbon neutral congregation! (Spoiler – it involves Mission Green LLC!)


The solution for this project came from many conversations. Jim and Liz worked first with their Congregation, and then with local sustainability mentors Larry Grimstad, Andy Johnson (Winneshiek Energy District), Joel Zook (Alliant Energy), Jim Martin-Schramm (Professor Emeritus of Religion at Luther College), Amy Bouska (Howard County Energy District), and others to brainstorm and dream about the possibilities for this project. They also worked to create and develop a business plan forming Mission Green LLC (a mission with a company).


Would a carbon-neutral project fit in with their ideas? Can you grow a business using a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)? Could this idea/business model allow Good Shepherd to lower energy bills and their carbon footprint? Could this include some of the ideas for a renewed outdoor space for the congregation?

The result of these conversations and questions was a proposal from Mission Green to enable a Carbon Neutral Project for Good Shepherd. Mission Green would create a business relationship with the Good Shepherd congregation, and see the successful project through, including:

  • Selling the congregation electricity at lower fixed costs through a PPA (purchase power agreement).
  • Eliminating their use of carbon-based fuels by installing and leasing heat pumps, while removing eyesores on the roof.
  • Providing an opportunity to fix water drainage problems of an unused outdoor space (French drain).
  • Update/upgrade all service entrances to the entire facility.
  • Providing solar panels for rooftop installation (21 kW, 52 bi-facial). 
  • Creating a 37’x37′ solar canopy (27 kW, 50 bi-facial panels) with a waterproof racking system on a Douglas Fir post and beam pergola.
  • Installing a permeable paver courtyard directly over the French drain, with sound and light amenities.

Photo Courtesy of Joel Teslow – Decorah Electric

Good Shepherd is now 100% electric. The gas meter was removed in February 2023. The Good Shepherd Carbon Neutral Project has replaced the fossil fuel HVAC system with four geothermal heat pumps, three air-to-air heat pumps, and a mini-split unit. It can heat/air condition the entire facility using solar electricity, all created onsite. LED lighting throughout the whole campus also reduces the overall electrical needs. Other efforts by the congregation to lower their Carbon Footprint include planting over 20 trees on the campus greenspace and considering adding a prairie wildflower/pollinator garden. 


Once the PPA and lease are completed, the congregation can use previous energy dollars for mission dollars instead. We’re proud of our combined efforts to Move the Needle in the fight against climate change. 

To find out more about this work, visit:

Mission Green LLC – https://missiongreen.llc

Winneshiek Energy District – https://energydistrict.org/

Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With – Driftless Flyathlon


Run. Fish. Beer.

> Help  Benji reach his fundraising goal –  Donate here to the Driftless Flyathlon

Ryan Rahmiller and Scott Stimmel join us to talk about the Driftless Flyathlon – a favorite annual event of Benji’s that happens each fall at Yellow River Forest in rural Allamakee County, Iowa. Ryan and Scott are not only part of the six person planning crew of the Flyathlon event, but are also passionate fishermen, teachers, and cross country coaches! It’s this “intersection” of running, fly fishing, and a love of craft beer that has fueled the event since 2017 to raise tens of thousands of dollars for cold water conservation in NE Iowa. The original Flyathlon events have roots in Colorado with creator Andrew Todd and the Middle Creek Flyathlon, and then the beginning of the Driftless Flyathlon in 2016 by Brian Kouba – who can be seen in this 2017 piece from Iowa Outdoors.


The concept of the Flyathlon is quite fun – contestants line up at the starting line with their fly rods broken down. For the Driftless Flyathlon, an out and back trail run (approximately 4+ miles) happens along the Big Paint stream at Yellow River State Forest, with the requirement of catching a fish at any point during the run, and enjoying a nice craft beer at the end. It’s those three parts that make up the “Flyathlon”, but of course there is a fun “catch” the race as well – for each inch long of the (biggest) fish you catch, 2 minutes is taken off your running time. Catch a nice 12 inch brown? That’s 24 minutes off your running time – but catch nothing? That’s a 20 minute penalty! This can leave for some pretty fun strategy between fishing, running, and good ol’ luck!

Ryan Rahmiller – Driftless Flyathlon Organizer, fly fishing guide, teacher, and coach!

Since 2017, the planning team of Ryan and Amanda Rahmiller, alongside Clint and Angela Johnson (Ryan & Clint also making up part of the guiding team for Driftless on the Fly), have been organizing the event.

Scott Stimmel – Driftless Flyathlon Organizer, fly fisherman, teacher, and coach!

Scott Stimmel, a teacher and coach from the Iowa City area also joined the planning team after a couple years of competing, as well as Brad Rahmiller. The annual event takes months of preparation and planning – requiring the 75 participants to not only get in on one of the competitive slots for the actual race when registration opens in early Spring (it fills fast!), but for all participants to also fundraise for cold water stream conservation. Over the 7 years the event has been happening, tens of thousands of dollars have been raised for cold water conservation projects in NE Iowa via the Driftless Flyathlon.

Click Here to check out the latest stream restoration project!

The non profit entity “Running Rivers” was started by the original Colorado founders as a way to handle fundraising and dispersing funds raised by the Flyathlon events, and has continued to be an amazing partner both in Colorado and Iowa – and more recently North Carolina. But the goal at the end of the day is the same – have fun, meet like minded people, and support cold water habitat conservation.

If you’d like to support the Driftless Flyathlon, Click on this link to visit Benji’s fundraising page for the 2023 Driftless Flyathlon (this page is powered by FlipCause) – or visit:


Instagram: @driftlessflyathlon



“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming



Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With Decorah – Jeff Abbas

Jeff Abbas poses with agates and polishing equipment at his studio in rural NE Iowa. / Photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam

Jeff Abbas has been connecting communities, chasing passions, and picking up rocks for most of his life. A self proclaimed “agatographer”, his passion for Lake Superior agates and photography have found him producing stunning images of billion-plus year old agates. His ability to connect friends through photography led to the creation of the “Morning Coffee Shots” Facebook group that proceeded to connect hundreds of friends and soon-to-be friends through the pandemic and beyond.

(You can read the entire feature on Jeff from the Summer 2023 issue of Inspire(d) Magazine here – special thank you to Sara Friedl Putnam for that profile, and the photos noted on this episode page).

Jeff Abbas holds a polished agate. / Photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam

An Iowa native, Abbas set across the US after school to see the country, and by the mid-1970s found himself in the US Navy, and then Central California. It was here that he found a passion for all that California offered – including the Sierra Foot Hills. Early jobs included using early generation digital cameras (a Sony Mavica to be exact), to capture wildflower images in the Sierra – an idyllic job in many ways that would send him out into the wilderness for a few days at a time. Jeff also had an interest in broadcasting, and a voice to back it up – but flipped a coin to decide if he should pursue education in broadcasting or culinary arts. The culinary path won, but his part time volunteer work at KUOP 93.1 FM in Stockton, CA would lead him into a career in broadcasting (including a short stint at a smooth jazz station – you’ll have to listen to hear Jeff’s on-air pseudonym!). 

But the draw of the midwest, and the boom of California helped Jeff circle back to NE Iowa in the early 2000s. It was a chance opportunity to jump back into community radio at the now defunct KPVL 89.1 FM in Postville that put Jeff back on the air. There was no way to know it, but Jeff would be at the center of community information when the 2008 ICE Immigration raid of Agriprocessors (the largest ever immigration raid in the US at that time). That event would also connect him to his now wife, Mary, who was working with Catholic Charities in the aftermath of the raid. 

 Photo by Jeff Abbas Agate Photography

Although Jeff had been interested in agates his whole life, he credits the book “The Other Lake Superior Agates” by John D Marshall for sparking an even deeper appreciation and fascination with discovering the intricacies of these marvelous creations. Jeff describes an amazing intersection of “art and interest” in coaxing the almost magical designs and features of these billion-plus year old treasures. Tie in his love of photography and sharing with community, and Jeff has found at least another life’s work in his passion for “agatography”. 


More information:

– Full “Community Builder” Profile on Jeff Abbas from the Summer 2023 Issue of Inspire(d) Magazine
– “Morning Coffee Shots” Facebook group
– “Lake Superior Agate Life” Facebook group


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming


Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With – Wright Way Computers – Tyler Wright


Tyler Wright of Wright Way Computers shares his story of building a full service computer and IT business out of his early interest in technology. Having just purchased a building and moved into their (second!) Water Street home (117 E Water St) in downtown Decorah, Tyler shares insights into business, technology, and the challenges -and benefits – of living in a rural area!


This conversation was sparked by a recent community conversation in which Benji and Tyler got to know each other – and talk over some of the benefits and challenges of living in rural NE Iowa. We hope you enjoy some of the insights into the challenges, benefits, and work that is to be done to see our region continue to thrive, as well as what it takes to find and keep employees for small businesses in rural Iowa. 


Find Wright Way Computers at their new home – 117 E Water Street, or online https://www.wrightwaycomputers.com/

“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming


Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With Decorah – Mabe’s Pizza


There are certain things that are identified as true Decorah landmarks: Dunning’s Spring, Vesterheim, Luther College, Seed Savers Exchange… and Mabe’s Pizza, of course! (Ok, there are lots more, but…)


For 70 years, the White family has been providing square cut pizza slices and hometown hospitality to Northeast Iowa locals and visitors alike. Now a fourth generation family business, the Mabe’s legacy started with Mabel White, who at the age of 49 (!), opened “Mabel’s Lunch Room” in 1953 at the corner of College Drive and Leif Erickson Street.


Her proximity to Luther College was a winning choice from the start – they provided countless coffee, donuts, and eventually meals, to area residents and hungry students. It was one of those young patrons who asked Mabel about making a “pizza” – something she knew nothing about at the time, but would eventually make Mabe’s an iconic Decorah staple.


From forging partnerships with local breweries, to supporting an endless number of community groups and projects – Mabe’s is a true main street (or Water Street, in this case!) pillar.

Join them in celebrating 70 years of square cut pizza and four generations of family-run-business this summer – and keep an eye out for monthly specials and celebrations.

Also don’t miss our full interview (with even more fun historical photos!) in the Summer 2023 issue of Inspire(d) Magazine.  Click here to read the full interview from the magazine. 

Find out more about Mabe’s:

Thank You to the White Family for 70+ tasty years of Mabe’s!


“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming


Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With… The Getup – Lisa Lantz


Lisa Lantz is the owner of The Getup in Downtown Decorah, a “carefully curated secondhand clothing boutique with gear for the whole family”. She is also an Iowa boomerang, who set out on a track in theater and costume design, followed her passion teaching in higher education to the East Coast before circling back to Decorah with her husband (and business partner) Scott Bassford. Two boys, a career shift, and two business locations later, The Getup shines bright at 212 West Water Street in Downtown Decorah, offering “Community Powered Sustainable Styles” for the whole family.


What does “Sustainable Style” mean though? And what sets The Getup apart from a thrift store? Dive in to this show to hear Lisa talk about all this and more – but we can tell you Lisa & Scott set out from the beginning to create a beautiful, well curated, fun, family friend, affordable experience. In fact, it was the closing of Decorah’s legacy JC Penney Store in 2017 that was one of Lisa’s “Ah-Ha!” moments of seeing the right timing and opportunity to launch their store. Originally, they thought perhaps The Getup would be just for young people, but they quickly figured out that there is a fantastic market for gently worn second hand clothing for all ages, body types, and styles.


Since launching their store, Lisa & Scott have since outgrown one downtown space, purchased and renovated a building (and apartment!) at 212 W Water Street, embraced and created technology that has helped them move their business forward, and also become even more woven into the fabric Downtown Decorah (Lisa even serves on the Decorah Chamber of Commerce board!). Lisa is also a recent graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10ksb Iowa program, which you can hear more about in our podcast here.

Check out The Getup’s Instagram Feed!

Jump into this conversation – and then go check out the ever-changing inventory at The Getup – or better yet, clean out those high quality gently worn clothing items that you don’t wear anymore and sell them at The Getup! We are so grateful to have this amazing community resource on Water Street.


— Community Powered Sustainable Styles —


Find The Getup at 212 W Water Street – Downtown Decorah




“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming


Really, you should click this reel!


Rhymes With Decorah Podcast: Rhymes With… Modish – Stephanie Henning


Stephanie Henning has been helping create beautiful retail spaces since she was just old enough to unbox and arrange shoes on the racks of The Bootery (her Mom’s part time retail job.) Fashion and retail was the track that would give her inspiration and opportunity again and again, all while dreaming of what her own boutique would look like someday – Modish!


Fast forward three sons of her own, and a decade+ career in child care, Stephanie found herself with the opportunity to re-enter women’s fashion in Downtown Decorah via her friend and mentor Margaret Walter.


A chance opportunity would allow Stephanie to realize the dream of having her own boutique. She also realized her store needed to service the “real life” needs of her audience in a town of 8,000 people, an hour from anything that resembles a city. “It’s more than our tagline. It’s our mission. We have real bodies and real life budgets and we assume you do, too.”


Stephanie has been a ground level user of promoting her brick and mortar dream via tasteful and authentic social media use since day 1 of bringing her store to life – and those messages are also carry through her amazing team of stylists in her store. From 0/2 to 3X+, Modish works to model real life, and great fashion.


From tackling 100+ year old buildings with her Husband Mark, to carving out the time to attend fashion and buying events in urban centers, mentoring young stylists, and helping keep a rural main street thriving – Stephanie continues to bring life and light to Water Street in Downtown Decorah – stop by and see for yourself!

Find Modish on Instagram here.

Photos courtesy of Modish and Alacia Adrienne Photography.

“Rhymes With Decorah” is a companion project of Inspire(d) Media.

Original music heard in this podcast performed and recorded by Nick Zielinski of Decorah. Find him on Instagram, Patreon, TikTok and more @indicative_of_drumming


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