National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Rebecca Waddington
Rebecca Waddington

Location: Kansas City, MO
Aviation Weather Center (AWC)
Job Title: Executive Officer
Rebecca Waddington


What is your name, and where did you grow up?

My name is Rebecca Waddington. I grew up in Crestline, California, a little town in the Southern California Mountains.

Where did you go to college?

 I got my Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology at San Jose State University. I later earned my Master’s degree in Aviation Science from Everglades University.

When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in STEM?

I fell in love with the ocean in 3rd grade when I went on a Whale Watching field trip. I initially planned to major in oceanography, but I later fell in love with thunderstorms while vacationing in Arizona. From that moment on, I wanted to study weather.

How did anyone or anything you saw in the media influence your desire to go into the STEM field?

I loved watching the weather reports on the news as a kid. I thought it was fascinating to be able to predict the future. When I was ten years old, I saw the news reports about Hurricane Andrew. That made me want to study tropical meteorology and eventually fly into a hurricane.

Looking back to your childhood, to what extent do you believe your interest in STEM was accepted and praised?

I had several math and science teachers that encouraged me to go into STEM fields. My best subject was math, so I could have been successful in many different fields. In college, I had a physics professor that highly encouraged me to switch my major to physics. We compromised, and I majored in Meteorology and minored in Physics.

When you were in school, what were some barriers or opportunities to express an interest in the natural and physical sciences?

My high school was very small, so we didn’t have any elective sciences. I had to wait until I was in college to study earth science.

Current Work:

How long have you been working at NWS?

I am an officer in the NOAA Corps, and I have held various assignments in NWS offices. I worked as a student intern in 2003 at the NWS Monterey Weather Forecast Office. While in the NOAA Corps, I worked at the National Hurricane Center and the Aviation Weather Center.

What is your current position at NWS?

I currently work as the Executive Officer at the Aviation Weather Center.

Did you start in this position? If not, what was your first position?

Before working at the Aviation Weather Center, I was assigned to fly NOAA’s King Air aircraft full time. Prior to flying, I worked at the National Hurricane Center in the Storm Surge Unit.

What would you say is the best thing about working at NWS?

Every day is different. Somedays, I forecast thunderstorms. Other days I teach pilots about turbulence or icing. It is impossible to get bored while working for the National Weather Service.

Women in STEM Now and in the Future:

Why do you think there are so few women in STEM careers?

I think a lot of women don’t know about what opportunities are available. When I was in college, I had no idea the NOAA Corps existed, let alone I could become a pilot!

Why do you believe there should be more women in STEM fields?

Women have a unique ability to multitask. I think women succeed in STEM field because our minds are constantly working, figuring out what needs to be done ten steps ahead of what we’re working on at the time.

Do you believe there is a need for more women at NWS? Why or why not?

I think men and women are equally good working in the NWS, and we should be equally represented. Throughout my career, I’ve seen the number of women increase in the NWS. I hope it continues to rise.

Do you have any advice for women and girls interested in STEM careers?

Don’t be afraid to be part of “the old boys club.” Show that you’re not going anywhere. If you do your job well, you will earn respect regardless of your gender.

In what ways have you encouraged young women to explore an interest in STEM?

 I represent the NWS at the Women in Aviation conference each year. It is remarkable to see how many women are becoming pilots, mechanics, engineers, and forecasters. I also speak at the American Meteorology Society annual meeting and at local schools to show students what opportunities are available in NOAA Corps and the NWS.

Additional Questions for Bloggers:

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I love being outside. I hike, paddleboard, snowboard, and sail.