National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor's Degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Courses in Information Technology from Sacramento State University
  • Courses in Emergency Management from Idaho State University

Describe the career path that led you to your current job with the National Weather Service.

  • I started my career in 1994 as an intern at the Weather Service Office (WSO) in Valdez, AK. In 1995, I was transferred to the Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Juneau, AK, where I helped the new Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) with US Coast Guard (USCG) tabletop exercises, sparking my interest in emergency management. In 1998, I became a Journeyman forecaster and Incident Meteorologist (IMET) at the WFO in Sacramento, CA. I moved back to Alaska in 2000 as a forecaster and IMET. I transferred to my current job in Boise, ID in 2001.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • I oversee the operations side of fire weather for the NWS. My main responsibility is to run the IMET program, ensuring that IMETs are trained, equipped and ready to deploy (with help from my colleagues here in Boise). During fire season, I dispatch IMETs to wildland fires and other incidents across the country. I am also still an active IMET.

What was the most interesting, exciting, or impactful weather/water event you experienced while working for the NWS and why does it stand out?

  • The 2000 fire season stands out as a milestone in my career. That season set a record for largest number of acres burned and number of IMETs deployed. I personally went on four fires that year in MT, ID, and AK. I got to work with great people on extremely complex incidents. It was then that I knew my future would be with wildland fire support.

What made you decide to pursue a career with the NWS?

  • I had student loans due 30 days after graduation, so I needed to find work fast. I had put in my resume with the NWS, specifically asking for an Alaska assignment because I enjoyed the outdoors and it sounded like an adventure. The day after Memorial Day in 1994, I got a letter telling me to report to Valdez in 30 days, and my adventure began.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • I love working with our interagency partners here at the NIFC every day. I love seeing that the NWS fire weather program is having a real and important impact on how multiple federal, state, and local agencies manage wildland fire.

What advice do you have for someone interested in a career with the NWS?

  • Be flexible. There are opportunities all over the nation. Don't restrict yourself to just one geographical area. You will always have the chance to get back to where you want to go, but when you are young, take advantage of the adventures available and be willing to go somewhere you've never been. I certainly never dreamed I'd be in Boise, ID, but I wouldn't trade this, or the path I took to get here, for the world. The wider you cast your net, the better your chances!

What training or coursework would you recommend to someone interested in following your career path?

  • Definitely science and math. If you plan on going into Decision Support, I would also highly recommend public speaking as well as courses in emergency management. I would also recommend courses in forestry. Also, take a course or two on how to build something (shop class). It's a good life skill, and it teaches you to problem solve using the tools and materials available. This is a good skill to have when working remotely, far removed from your nearest support center.