AMES, Iowa -- For the second consecutive year, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) named Iowa State University's student chapter the most outstanding in the nation. It is the student organization's fourth win in the past eight years. Students will receive the award at the AMS 2014 annual meeting in Atlanta, Feb. 2-6.
With 14,000 members, the AMS is the nation's leading professional society for those involved in the atmospheric and related sciences. Iowa State's chapter has 74 members and is one of 72 student chapters in the country.
The AMS cited ISU's chapter for "continued excellence in the local community, a very well rounded and creative approach to public outreach, and their commitment and success mentoring and retaining young students in the atmospheric sciences."
"We've always had a great group of very motivated, outgoing students," said chapter adviser David Flory, senior lecturer in geological and atmospheric sciences.
"I think they keep winning this honor because of their dedication and their continual improvement. They are always trying to find more ways to impact the community and more outreach they can do," Flory said.
The group organizes a variety of educational activities and outreach events, according to chapter president Kevin Smalley, a senior in meteorology from Marshfield, Mo.
"We do a lot of outreach to elementary schools in Ames and Des Moines," Smalley said. "We talk about what the weather is and does and give them weather safety tips. We try to get them excited about science."
Smalley said they're also laying the groundwork to encourage the state to adopt a law similar to one in Minnesota that requires mobile home parks provide residents with storm ready plans.
"This is a longer term project," Smalley said.
The AMS students help with clean up in towns devastated by tornadoes, and provide severe weather tips to HyVee for their grocery bags. On campus, they keep Agronomy Hall's lawn trash-free as part of Iowa State's "Keep ISU Beautiful" campaign. And the chapter sent 30 students to the AMS annual meeting last year.
Smalley said they're planning a new educational outreach event on campus this spring — a science fair for Ames elementary school students. They also are working with other AMS student chapters to help coordinate relief for the victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines.
The ISU chapter sponsors educational field trips for members (most are meteorology majors) to tour the offices of the National Weather Service office in Johnston and TV stations in Des Moines.
Students from the chapter also provide weather forecasts to the Iowa State Daily and contribute to "Cy's Eyes on the Skies," a weather program that airs online twice a week.
"We do it at the new studio in Hamilton Hall and we have a new graphics machine this year," said Smalley. "It's an exciting opportunity for students who want to be broadcast meteorologists."
Smalley and Flory also credit the chapter's ongoing success to the shared experience of working with other meteorology students on non-academic projects related to their field.
"The chapter provides these students with the experience of doing outreach, teaching children, getting weather information out to the public while also interacting with people in their field," Flory said.
"We're a tight-knit group," Smalley said. "That's what keeps me coming back."