Amy Mayer

Reporter, producer, writer, editor

A teary-eyed farmer recalls his family's struggle to hold onto the farm in the 1980s. A biologist, disguised to hide her humanity, provides nutrition to an abandoned sea otter pup. Candidates loudly proclaim their memorized commitments to Iowa communities. These are among the stories I've heard and shared.

My work has aired on NPR shows including Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Marketplace, Living on Earth, and The Pulse. I've written for the Boston Globe, The New York Times, Real Simple, BioScience, Wellesley, and Newsweek. My podcast credits include Bay Curious, Caucus Land, and The California Report Magazine. I've been an editor for the California Newsroom and St. Louis Public Radio, a reporter at Iowa Public Radio/Harvest Public Media, and a contributor to KQED, WFCR and KUAC.

Scroll down for a sampling of the people I've met.

Filters & Sorting

Changing Snowpack Inspires New Measurement

Scientists have developed a new way to measure how much water is stored in mountain snow, potentially helping both water managers and climate modelers better estimate future streamflows. Climate change’s effect on precipitation and temperature has increased the variability of mountain snowpack, said Christina Aragon, a doctoral student in water resources engineering at Oregon State University. “It kind of made us question, Could there be a new metric that helps capture that variability?”

Holes in Ross Sea Ice Grow and Shrink in Unexpected Cycle

When sea ice breaks apart or is pushed away from the coast by wind, what’s left behind are pockets of open water surrounded by ice, known as polynyas. The polynyas that form around Antarctica can be identified and measured using satellite data going back to 1979. A team analyzing those data unexpectedly found that in the Ross Sea region, the area of polynyas appears to fluctuate on a 16-year cycle. “It’s quite remarkable, actually,” said Kent Moore, a distinguished professor of geophysics at t

Can $3 billion persuade Black farmers to trust the Department of Agriculture?

Can $3 billion persuade Black farmers to trust the Department of Agriculture? The Biden administration is spending $3.1 billion to convince farmers and ranchers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon in the ground. It also hopes that the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grants will help make amends for a century of systemic discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) against Black, Native and other "historically underserved" farmers. The program alrea

Can $3 billion persuade Black farmers to trust the USDA?

The Biden administration’s $3.1 billion Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities grant program hopes to convince farmers and ranchers to adopt practices that will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon in the ground. It also seeks to make amends for a century of discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which administers the grants. In its program description, USDA said Black, Native, and other “historically underserved” farmers needed to be a key part of all projects in the climate-smart program.

This 30-Mile East Bay Trail Has Roots on the Railroad

That last question goes back further in Au’s own life. She grew up in Walnut Creek, where for a long time an old railroad depot housed a steak restaurant. “I grew up passing by looking at it thinking, ‘Oh, what a cool building,’” she said. “And then (feeling) kind of sad that it wasn’t used as a train station anymore.” Bay Curious set out to answer Au’s questions and explore the history of this popular East Bay Regional Park District trail through the San Ramon Valley in Contra Costa County.

‘An incredible, sophisticated time machine.’ Brown University scientists drill into the past to help learn about our climate future

Wearing a hard hat and safety glasses, Brown University graduate student Bryce Mitsunaga pulls nitrile gloves onto his hands, picks up a plastic bin of tools and positions himself at the end of a series of metal workstations. Moments later, a team of technicians carries a 30-foot-long plastic tube full of mud and sets it in a rack that runs the length of the catwalk where Mitsunaga bounces a bit with anticipation. He quickly takes a small plug of mud, which was just pulled up from deep beneath the seafloor.
Beth LaBerge/KQED

At Kiss My Boba, Tongan Specialty Helps San Bruno Shop Stand Out

The ubiquity of boba drink shops in the Bay Area did not discourage Willy and Chelsea Tatola from pursuing their dream of opening one. Instead, it challenged the husband-and-wife team to offer something new and different. “We tried to come up with a unique name that, once you came to our shop, you would never forget,” Willy Tatola says. The result is Kiss My Boba, which launched as a food truck more than four years ago and opened a storefront in October 2021.
Courtesy of Pedro Lange

Bay Area Chicana Blues Singer's New Album Is a Celebration of Spanish — a Language She Fought to Learn

But it was expensive to hire a teacher, and Crouse’s family couldn’t afford to help support her education. Crouse, who grew up in a lower-income, single-parent home, needed financial security, and wasn’t sure her love of music would translate into a true career. Still, after college, graduate school, and a divorce, Crouse's daughter encouraged her to return to music. She discovered that her bold, brassy voice was perfect for singing blues, and released her first album, “Never Too Soon,” in 2018

Bagman for Bay Mussels – Estuary News Magazine

Martin Trinh practically bounces along the dock at the Coyote Point Yacht Club on a breezy, sunny spring morning. He’s carrying a case full of instruments and scopes out an open slip at the end of the pier. Soon he’s lowering a probe into the water, alongside kelp clinging to the underside of the dock. Another trip back to his Prius, still sporting South Carolina license plates, and he’s got a white plastic dish pan and a scrub brush. He fills and rinses a brown plastic bottle several times before finally capping it while full and placing it into a zip-top plastic bag. Then he lies on his belly, reaches into the water, and with blue nitrile gloves feels amidst the kelp for the last thing he needs here today: five medium-size mussels.

Ford Pro, Wilbur-Ellis partner with Sonoma County Winegrowers on susainability, electric vehicles

A partnership aimed at helping farmers and ranchers transition to an electric vehicle future has taken another step as an agribusiness announced plans to purchase 10 electric pickup trucks for use serving agricultural customers in California. Wilbur Ellis - an international marketer, distributor and manufacturer of agricultural products, animal nutrients, and specialty chemicals and ingredients - has a global commercial fleet of 2,800 vehicles. CEO John Buckley says beginning the transition to electric in California makes sense because of the state’s incentives and its leadership on electrification. He joined a Ford Pro event showcasing the new electric F-150 pickup truck at Dutton Ranch in Sebastopol last week.
Olivia Watkins

Advocates say community groups are key to helping underserved farmers

Olivia Watkins’ family has owned land in North Carolina since the 1890s. Since her grandmother recently passed away, Watkins has become the responsible party for the forested acres. She has an MBA from North Carolina State University and her mother is an attorney. She recognizes these are privileges that not all Black farmland owners enjoy. “We were able to successfully retain our land without it getting caught up in heirs property loopholes and things like that,” she said, referring to property with unclear title, which can prevent the landowner from being eligible for loans and can inhibit succession planning. Even so, Watkins has not enrolled in any federal programs, even when she started an agroforestry business growing mushrooms.
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