Kathleen Masterson

New England News Collaborative Reporter

Kathleen Masterson is VPR's New England News Collaborative reporter. She covers energy, environment, infrastructure and labor issues for VPR and the collaborative. Kathleen comes to Vermont having worked as a producer for NPR’s science desk and as a beat reporter covering agriculture and the environment.

Kathleen covered food production for Harvest Public Media while based at Iowa Public Radio in Ames, Iowa. She wrote stories ranging from the risks of antibiotic use in livestock feed to how hedge fund managers visit corn fields to bet on the commodities market to how the fracking boom has spurred sand mining in Iowa. As a digital producer for NPR for several years, Kathleen reported science and health stories and produced multimedia series for NPR.org. She covered topics that ranged from human evolution to swine flu to the Affordable Care Act to plastic chemicals BPA and phthalates.

Kathleen has contributed work to NPR, Marketplace, Grist, and NPR-affiliates including KQED and WGBH. She also worked as a digital producer for PBS NOVA, a science writer for University of California, San Francisco and the Morning Edition producer/reporter for VPR.

Ways to Connect

ITVFest

This year marks the third year The Independent Television and Film Festival will be held in Dover. For seven years the festival took place in Hollywood, but the executive director decided to move it out of the busy city to a Vermont mountain town.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Long before Tropical Storm Irene, University of Vermont professor Dan Baker and other community planning researchers were concerned about the vulnerability of Vermont’s mobile homes to floods and other emergency events.

USDA

August is “Tree Check” month.  It’s the time when ecologists are out surveying the forests to see if invasive insect species are showing up in the state. Here in Vermont scientists are primarily on the lookout for Asian longhorned beetle, Emerald ash borer, and hemlock woolly adelgid.

Steve Zind / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin joined VPR by phone on Monday to debrief the chain of events beginning on Friday afternoon that left four people dead in Central Vermont.

James Boase / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Every fisherman has a story about the "one that got away." But Chet MacKenzie is dedicated to making sure that this particular species of fish in Lake Champlain doesn't get away – or disappear. 

Martin LaBar via Flickr

Injuries to the human lung can be life-threatening, and also very difficult to treat. When there's a hole that punctures the lung, some sealants exist to patch it, but breathing in and out means air is moving around, and keeping that patch in place is tricky to say the least.

NASA

Shrugging off its ignominious downgrading from planet to dwarf planet status a few years back, Pluto burst back into the public spotlight when a space probe passed closer to it than any spacecraft ever had before, returning some stunning images of Pluto and its moons. 

Eric Bégin via Flickr

Hydro-Quebec, a government-owned utility in Canada and a key energy producer for Vermont, has a new a chief executive officer. Éric Martel comes to Hydro-Quebec after heading up the successful business aircraft division at Bombardier.

Courtesy Circus Smirkus

Meet "The Smirkos." That's the affectionate name for the troupe of young performers who diligently train and eventually appear in shows put on by Circus Smirkus, an award-winning international youth circus.

This year’s theme, “Bon Appetit,” is celebrating food — the acts include using plates as props, vaulting off tables and creating human pyramids. 

cmackenz / iStock.com

The number of monarch butterflies that overwinter in Mexico’s forests is down by 90 percent or more over the past two decades. And about half of these butterflies come from the U.S. Midwest, where their larvae feed on common milkweed. Part of the problem: A recent study cites a huge decline in milkweed in the Midwest, in part due to the use of agricultural pesticides. 

Vermont Department of Health

A new state program will monitor and test all 22 drinking water systems that pull water from Lake Champlain, with a focus on detecting blue-green algae blooms.

mgpenguin86 / via Flickr

The Rutland City Police Department is participating in a nationwide initiative to make more data about police activity available to the public.

mark wragg / Thinkstock

It's not often that Rutland, Vermont and the Bronx, New York are linked in a news story.

But Vermont's now well-publicized heroin problem has its roots in a drug cartel based in the Bronx. A recent Drug Enforcement Administration bust seized 70 kilos of heroin with a street value estimated at $50 million. This bust broke up a major warehouse that shipped heroin north up Interstate 87 and 90 into New England.

The editorial staffs at a number of small-town newspapers in Vermont and Massachusetts are getting smaller still.

New England Newspapers Inc., has laid off 10 editorial employees at papers it owns including the Brattleboro Reformer, the Bennington Banner and the Manchester Journal.  The layoffs leave skeleton crews at the three Vermont newspapers.

haglundc via Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday ruled against new federal regulations that would crack down on mercury and other toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants. 

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

So far this June is one of the wettest on record in Vermont. With over 7 inches of rainfall, it’s the fourth wettest June in Burlington since 1884.

For many farmers, waterlogged fields have prevented them from harvesting hay; and the standing water stunts the growth of corn and other grains.  

The Vermont College of Fine Arts is hosting the first Vermont Book Award this year. Judges announced the six finalists in the running for the inaugural honor – and the $5,000 prize – Thursday.

Bud Mayfield / U.S. Forest Service

Ecologists are hoping a tiny fly from the Pacific Northwest could help save the towering hemlock forests dying along the East Coast.

Vermont's Department of Motor Vehicles was breaking Vermont law when it searched its records using facial recognition software, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan says.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

In January 2014 Vermont enacted a law that established a new kind of driver’s license called a driver’s privilege card. The identification allows undocumented immigrant farmworkers residing in Vermont to drive legally in the state.

Courtesy of Jeff Kaufman

The new documentary The State of Marriage tells the story of a prominent civil rights attorney and two small-town Vermont lawyers whose legal battle paved the way for same-sex marriage in Vermont and across the county.

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