The 21st Show

‘Soil Carbon Cowboys’ Documentary; Bloomington Murder Case Revisited; College Graduation Gap


Soil Carbon Cowboys

On The 21st: 35 years ago this week, Susan Hendricks and her three children were brutally murdered in their Bloomington home. We‘ll talk with journalist Steve Vogel about his book, Reasonable Doubt, and what we know about the crime three decades later. Plus, more than two dozen Illinois colleges have banded together to try and address the college graduation gap between African-American and Latino students and their white counterparts. But first, how can all the cows we raise for meat help, rather than hurt, our environment?

We all have heard about how much cattle is a source of greenhouse gas emissions. Maybe you’ve stopped eating beef, or at least cut back, because of its environmental impact.

Because that’s affected the bottom line of companies like McDonald’s, they’re investing in new research to find out better ways of raising cattle.

A new short film called Soil Carbon Cowboys explores these topics. It features a few cattle farmers across the U.S. and Canada who have changed the way their cattle graze.

It’s going to be shown today at McDonald’s headquarters right here in Illinois.  It showcases showing some of the initial findings of millions of dollars of research McDonald’s has put into it and looks at how changing the way cattle graze could not just cut carbon emissions but reduce the use of pesticides.

A team of 16 scientists and farmers from more than half a dozen universities,including the University of Illinois, are working on understanding how changing the way cattle graze can create healthier beef.

We had a chance to speak with two of the men involved in this $4.7 million research project.

Peter Byck is the filmmaker for Soil Carbon Cowboys. He also teaches journalism at Arizona State University. 

Jonathan Lundgren also joined us. He's from the Ecdysis Foundation. 


Those around especially in the Bloomington and Peoria will remember the Hendricks family murders. Susan Hendricks, and her three children: Rebekah, Grace and Benjamin were brutally murdered in their home 35 years ago this week.

The horrific crime and its aftermath rocked Central Illinois. Reasonable Doubt  is journalist Steve Vogel’s account of the crime, the trial, and the eventual acquittal, was first released in 1989. A year later it hit the New York Times bestseller list.

On this anniversary, Steve has re-released the book. He’s joined us in our Urbana studio.


It’s the time of year when many students are applying to college. But as hard as it can be to get in, finishing college is a big challenge, too.

It can also be different depending on your racial background. Across the country black and latino students graduate from college at a much lower rate than their white counterparts. And Illinois has the fourth largest gap: 66 percent of white students graduate college within six years, compared to 33 percent for African-Americans and 48 percent for Latinos.

Recently a group of colleges have come together and agreed that they need to solve this problem in the coming years and close those gaps. Kyle Westbrook is leading this initiative called the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative. He’s also executive director of the Partnership for College Completion in Chicago.

Story source: WILL