In the College of Sciences and Humanities, students gain professional experience and skills beyond the classroom to prepare for successful careers. The Department of Geography and Meteorology offers two on-campus opportunities for students interested in broadcast weather and other meteorology-based careers.
Cardinal Weather Service
The Cardinal Weather Service (CWS) was started by Dr. Petra Zimmermann, Department Chair and Associate professor of Geography and Meteorology, and Dr. Nathan Hitchens, Assistant Professor of Geography and Meteorology after receiving a Provost Immersive Learning Grant. This program allows meteorology major or minor students, along with any other interest students regardless of major, to forecast and nowcast for BSU and community partners such as Ball State Athletics, Cardinal Greenways, and the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency. As well as providing the weather on screen, students post regular weather updates to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and on their website for BSU, Muncie, and Delaware County.
This project arose from the desire for meteorology and climatology students to apply the skills they are learning in the classroom to the real world. Students learn the ability to communicate with fellow meteorologists, to review and debrief about forecasting, and apply the theories they have learned in the classroom to real-world scenarios. Employers like the National Weather Service and those in the private sector require the use of these skills, giving CWS members a head start on professional experience.
With the CWS, not only are they making real forecasts and nowcasts, but they have real groups and people who rely on the information they provide. – Dr. Nathan Hitchens, Assistant Professor of Geography & Meteorology
Ben Waggoner, a current Junior in the Department of Geography and Meteorology, got involved with CWS during his freshman year at the urging of his professors. Despite his initial hesitancy, he quickly realized the flexible work hours provided him with professional experience, while also allowing to him earn credits towards his degree. Ben would highly recommend this immersive learning experience to anyone with a passion for the weather, and he has loved getting to know emergency management and local authorities and during Ball state football games.
My favorite game was the wild game that clinched Ball State a spot in the MAC Championship game. It was so much fun. Since then, Ball State Athletics has given me the trust and pleasure for me to be the on-site meteorologist for all football home games since, and I’m eternally grateful. – Ben Waggoner
CWS allows faculty and students to work together and provides students with the opportunity to use and develop the skills they have been learning in the coursework. Not only does it help passionate students hone their practical skills, but CWS helps them define their future goals and propels them into achieving them.
CWS is not the only opportunity students who are interesting in broadcast meteorology can take advantage of. As part of their coursework, meteorology students get the opportunity to practice their skills in a live news studio, developed through an equal partnership with the College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM).
Dr. David Call, Associate Professor of Geography and Meteorology, delights in seeing his students growing in their skills and love for what they do. This partnership’s success, spanning over 14 years, “can only really be attributed to the students themselves,” said Call. “Students have been the ones to do everything. From creating new shows, including a new weather and variety show, to producing, writing, and developing hands-on skills with real TV equipment, the students are doing a great job,” he added. In the future, Dr. Call hopes to see the continuation of this student-led program and is excited to see how they will develop it next. He is also incredibly hopeful for the future of this cross-college partnership as media and telecommunication continues to boom throughout the world.
Current students in this program are made up of both Meteorology major and minors along with those pursuing degrees in CCIM, including double majors in programs across both colleges. By doubling across colleges, students receive a well-rounded education in their field of interest, making them particularly attractive for future employers. Graduates of this program have been very successful in their careers and are moving up in the markets to bigger cities and more well-known news stations.
“The proof of success is in the fact that the broadcast students land jobs before they even graduate” – Dr. David Call, Associate Professor of Geography.
This opportunity is another example of how the College of Sciences and Humanities at BSU is working to inspire innovation and encourage curiosity. Through providing students with an outlet for their passion while giving them the resources they need to excel both in and out of the classroom, the Department of Geography and Meteorology will continue to empower students to achieve their goals.