National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Student Volunteer Program


Program Outline

  1. Course Purpose and Goals
  2. Course Eligibility
  3. Deadlines
  4. Application and Selection Process
  5. General Course Outline
  6. National Weather Service Role and Support
  7. University of South Alabama Role and Support
  8. Point of Contact (USA and NWS)

Purpose and Goals
The purpose of the Introduction to the National Weather Service (NWS) course is to give eligible undergraduate students (with a major in meteorology) a baseline understanding of the structure, mission requirements, and duties of the NWS.  The primary goal of the course is to give the student an in-depth understanding of what a career (as a meteorologist) in the NWS will require. 

The course is open to all interested Junior and Senior undergraduate students, with a declared major in meteorology, that meet the following criteria:

  • Must have 2.7 overall GPA with a 3.0 GPA in completed core meteorology coursework, through exceptions may be made by the NWS for highly motivated students and upon written or verbal communication by a school staff member.
  • Students must be currently enrolled in or have already completed MET 354 (Dynamic Met I) by the time they start their internship.

Deadline for Applications

  • Fall Semester - September 1st
  • Spring Semester - February 1st

Application and Selection Process
Students who meet the eligibility requirements should submit an application to the Undergraduate Meteorology Program Coordinator at the University of South Alabama (USA). USA will make selections based on the stated eligibility requirements and forward their selections on to the Meteorologist in Charge (MIC) and the NWS Mobile Student Volunteer Coordinator. A maximum number of two volunteers will be selected after the review of applicants for a one semester program. NWS Mobile reserves the right to conduct interviews if deemed necessary in order to narrow down the field of applicants. The MIC will give final approval of the selections (contingent upon required Federal security requirements*). The Student Volunteer Coordinator will work with the volunteers to formulate a weekly volunteer schedule. All applicants will be notified via email of their selection status after the approvals have been made. 

* Selected students will have to complete a security background check that must be completed one month before the start of the internship.

It is preferred (although not required) that students also earn academic credit for this program. See your adviser for details.

Student Volunteer Program Application Form

General Course Outline (Subject to change)

  • Week 1…Orientation / NOAA IT Security Course
  • Weeks 2-3…NWS core computer systems and resources (AWIPS)
  • Week 4…Role of the HMT and WFO Hydrologist
  • Weeks 5-6…Forecast Desk Shadow (Public Service Desk)
  • Weeks 7-8…Severe weather operations at the WFO
  • Week 9…Numerical weather prediction for NWS – Putting it all together
  • Week 10…Forecast Desk Shadow (Public Service Desk)
  • Week 11…Forecast Desk Shadow (Marine/Aviation Forecasting)
  • Week 12…Forecast Desk Shadow (Forecast Production/Grids/Fire Weather)

The potential exists for a 2nd semester if the student wishes and WFO Mobile staff agree. During this second semester, the student would be expected to work in coordination with WFO Management and Staff on a project that would be both beneficial to the student and the office. A short presentation based on the students work would be given near the end of the semester.

In addition to work in the general course outline, student volunteers will be given guidance in order to participate in the public service sector, particularly during weather events. Some of the duties of the public service sector include answering telephones and logging severe weather reports

National Weather Service – Role and Support
WFO Forecasters (typically the Student Volunteer Coordinator and/or a HMT/Forecaster serving as a Mentor) will give local instruction and guidance in regards to the topic for the week.

University of South Alabama – Role and Support
The USA Department of Meteorology will be the primary interface with student candidates that meet the designated qualifications and eligibility requirements, and will direct them through the official application process. USA will also be responsible for monitoring the academic performance of the volunteers in order to ensure continued positive academic performance during the volunteer experience. 

Points of Contact

  • University of South Alabama:
    • Dr. Keith Blackwell (Undergraduate Meteorology Program Coordinator)
  • National Weather Service Mobile, AL: