Iowa State's student meteorology club named nation's top chapter

AMES, Iowa -- The American Meteorological Society (AMS) named Iowa State University's student group Outstanding Student Chapter of the Year for 2009-10. The award recognizes the chapter's community service and outreach, professional development pursuits and AMS involvement. It will be presented at the AMS national conference in Seattle in January.

Iowa State's chapter has 70 members and is one of 61 student groups in the country. The chapter also won the top honor in 2005-06 and has been among the AMS top five chapters every year except one since 2001.

"When choosing the recipient for the AMS Student Chapter of the Year Award, the review committee looks for both great programs that serve students in the department and great outreach to the community at large," said Keith Seitter, AMS executive director. "The Iowa State Student Chapter exhibited both of those. The committee was especially impressed with the student-faculty dinner, as well as other programs that enhance the student experience in the department."

JoBeth Minniear, a senior in meteorology and chapter president, thinks the diversity of experiences offered gives the ISU club an edge -- from touring the National Weather Service and local TV stations to offering science night activities and poster competitions for area schools to providing severe weather tips for HyVee grocery bags.

"We do a lot for our members professionally," Minniear said. "Besides the tours, we have speakers at our meetings -- we recently had an Air Force meteorologist. And we have an informal dinner so students can chat with and get to know the meteorology faculty."

Producing ISUtv weather show.

Last year, under the leadership of chapter president Rachel Hatteberg (now a graduate student in geological and atmospheric sciences), AMS students also programmed weather radios for local residents and helped organize advanced storm spotter training for members of the Iowa State community. And they provided daily weather forecasts to the Iowa State Daily and produced a regular weather show, "Cy's Eyes on the Skies," on ISUtv.

"We are rightly proud of this group of students, and think this is a pretty impressive honor," said Bill Gallus, professor of geological and atmospheric sciences and a faculty advisor to the club. "The AMS is the primary professional organization in our field, so this is the top honor any student group could receive."

With new ventures under way, Minniear hopes the chapter repeats the top honor in 2010-11. During Veishea, they will team up with local disaster response groups and National Weather Service meteorologists to provide weather awareness information and activities in a tent on central campus. Dubbed "Spring Fury," the tent will house a stage and several booths. One activity planned: A sandbag competition.

"There's such widespread interest in weather in this state," Minniear said. "We get so many severe storms that people always have questions."

The AMS, founded in 1919, is the nation's leading professional society for those involved in the atmospheric and related sciences. With more than 11,000 members, the society promotes the development and dissemination of information on atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences through scientific journals, conferences and public education programs across the country.