Kara Lofton

Freelance Reporter

Kara Leigh Lofton is a photographer, writer and radio reporter, producing stories mainly in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

Her articles and photographs have been published by WMRA, the news website and magazines of Eastern Mennonite University, Sojourners, and the Staunton News Leader, among other outlets.

Kara Leigh’s reportorial interests are wide – from beer festivals, yoga, health and medicine to profiling genocide survivors, Virginians living in shelters, and lawyers representing Native Americans nationwide.

Prior to and during her undergraduate years at Eastern Mennonite University, she had stints living internationally, spending months in Morocco, Spain, Turkey, and England, with shorter visits to Zambia, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and a half-dozen countries in western and central Europe. She speaks conversational Spanish.

In her spare time Kara Leigh enjoys reading, practicing yoga and hiking with her two loyal dogs.

At the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic in Scarbro, W.Va., oxygen tubes dangle from the noses of three miners slowly pedaling on stationary bikes. All of these men have black lung — a disease caused by breathing in coal dust. Over time, the dust coats the lungs and causes them to harden. Hard lungs don't easily expand and contract, and that makes it difficult to breathe.

Courtesy of Lindsey Kennedy

Rural Virginia still struggles with not having enough doctors – particularly specialists. But one University of Virginia program is working on trying to bridge that gap by providing a variety of telemedicine services. WMRA's Kara Lofton reports.

Kara Lofton

The South River and South Fork of the Shenandoah River have struggled with a legacy of industrial mercury pollution since the late 1920s. This year, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has approved a plan to begin remediating and restoring contaminated riverbanks.  WMRA's Kara Lofton reports.  This story has been updated.*

Courtesy Woody McKenzie

So you missed the Red Wing Roots Music Festival. Or you went, but couldn’t get to see everyone you wanted to see. Well don’t worry, our special correspondent Kara Lofton was there and she introduces us to a couple of the artists to watch for in the coming year.

Kara Lofton

In the second of two reports, WMRA’s Kara Lofton takes a detailed look at the current Guatemalan healthcare crisis and the attempt of one UVA physician to provide some relief.

Kara Lofton

For medical professionals in the U.S. today, Spanish-language proficiency and cultural sensitivity are invaluable. WMRA’s Kara Lofton looks at one University of Virginia program that’s attempting to teach these skills through a partnership program in Guatemala.

Kara Lofton

Have you ever walked into a gas station or convenience store and seen the newspaper with row after row of mug shots?  In central and western Virginia that paper is called Crime Times U.S.A., but there are variations on the theme all across the country. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked with Crime Times owner Brad McMurray, and with one of the men who have appeared in the paper, to discuss its controversial business model.

Kara Lofton

Restorative justice is the idea that conflict occurs because of broken relationships. If relationships can be restored, conflict can be resolved without punishment, resentment, or continued animosity. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked to three teachers who are bringing the practice into their classrooms.

Kara Lofton

Cohousing, or living in an intentional community while still retaining your own home, is a trend that has recently begun taking off in Virginia. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked to one of the organizers of the Harrisonburg Cohousing initiative (which is still in the planning stages) and visited an active cohousing community in Blacksburg.

Kara Lofton

In August, Harrisonburg adopted a single stream collection program, which removes the need for residents to sort their own waste. WMRA’s Kara Lofton took a detailed look at the new program and reports.

Courtesy of Meghann Clem

In partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky, The University of Virginia has launched the Compassionate Schools Project, a program they tout as “the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of a 21st century health and wellness curriculum.” WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Courtesy Harrisonburg International Festival

On Saturday, Sept. 26th, Harrisonburg will celebrate its 18th annual International Festival at Hillandale Park. But for the third year, another event, called the Harrisonburg International CommUNITY Celebration, will surround the festival and combine food, music, film and children’s activities in a two-week-long celebration of Harrisonburg’s vibrant and diverse culture. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

courtesy Robert Truoccolo

In response to recent mass shootings, the University of Virginia Medical Center has begun implementing “Active Shooter Drills” in both their main hospital and outpatient facilities. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Bike Shenandoah

Whether to support seven non-profits, or just to enjoy a day in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, bike riders of all ages will be gathering Saturday at Eastern Mennonite High School to participate in the 18th annual Bike Shenandoah. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Friday, Sept. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in James Madison University’s Memorial Hall, Wild Virginia hosts a screening of the award-winning student-produced documentary, “Won’t Pipe Down,” which tells the story of Nelson County residents fighting against Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked to one of the student filmmakers.

Kara Lofton

Although it's starting one day late due to severe weather Wednesday night, this weekend, 25,000 attendees will descend on Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington for the third annual Lockn’ Music Festival. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Independent film festivals have long been enjoyed for alternative, creative filmmaking and wide subject matter. WMRA’s Kara Lofton previews one regional festival – Skyline – that comes to Winchester on Thursday, Sept. 10th.

Kara Lofton

For the past year, three volunteers have been leading Buddhism, yoga and meditation classes for inmates at Goochland Women’s Correctional Facility outside of Richmond. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Kara Lofton

A vigil was held Wednesday morning on the quad of James Madison University in memoriam of Roanoke-based WDBJ-TV news reporter Alison Parker. Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward were shot and killed a week ago Wednesday by a former colleague during an early morning broadcast. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Kara Lofton

Last week, the Center for Open Science, a Charlottesville-based technology company, published a landmark analysis on scientific replication called the Reproducibility Project.  As it turns out, it’s much harder to replicate original research, at least in the social sciences, than you might think.  WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

In March, two Central Virginia United Methodist Church clergy were suspended for marrying same-sex couples. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talks to the pastors involved and takes a look at where they stand now that the suspension is over.

Kara Lofton

According to a Pew Research Center survey earlier this year, the proportion of Americans who self-identify as having no religious affiliation (called “nones”) has increased from 16% of the total population in 2007, to almost 25% now. Meanwhile, mainstream Christian affiliation is declining, particularly among millennials, the generation born from around 1980 to around 2000.  WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports on what the trend might mean and how it is being experienced here in Virginia.

Kara Lofton

In America, death is not something we often talk about unless we are forced to by circumstance or tragedy. But at hospitals, death is an everyday occurrence and medical workers must quickly learn to deal with it. But how do they cope? WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports on one initiative, called "The Pause," that started at the University of Virginia Medical Center two years ago and is now slowly being adopted by hospitals all over the country.

Jon Styer, Eastern Mennonite University

In the final installment of our occasional series “Clean Virginia,” WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports on the current solar trend, what it means for Virginia and how solar may change how we use energy.

Kara Lofton

Less than a week after the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe announced plans to remove the Confederate flag emblem from Virginia vanity license plates. The announcement was met with an outcry from some, and applause from other Virginians. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports on differing views of the flag.

This Saturday, for the first time, the Shenandoah Valley Pride Festival will be held in downtown Harrisonburg. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

In response to two deaths in the United States from over-hydration last summer, new guidelines were developed for water consumption during athletic activities. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked to the UVa physician who chaired the team of 16 international experts who produced the final recommendation.

Kara Lofton

The first Harrisonburg food truck registered in 2006. Now, nine years later, 22 food trucks - ranging in product from grilled cheese to Mexican to lobster rolls to barbecue - operate in the city. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Kara Lofton

Wednesday night, July 8th, Valley artists and creative thinkers gathered in James Madison University’s makerspace to discuss how to attract and keep creative people in the Valley.  WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

NASA image

Nearly ten years ago, NASA launched the New Horizons Mission to Pluto. And next Tuesday, July 14th, the spacecraft will reach its closest approach to the dwarf planet before passing by and continuing on to other icy formations far beyond what we have explored before. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked with two University of Virginia scientists involved with the mission.

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