National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation ambassador program is now 10,000 strong. This is where it all began.

Today, we're catching up with Sara Espinoza, Vice President of Programs at the National Environmental Education Foundation, also known as NEEF. The foundation exists to make the environment more accessible, relatable, and relevant to the daily lives of all Americans by connecting people to information and experiences that encourage environmental responsibility.

That powerful and important mission led NEEF to become NOAA's very first Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador when the initiative launched in 2014. Since then, more than 10,000 organizations have signed on to become ambassadors and help America become a more resilient nation in the face of increasing extreme weather events.

To celebrate this milestone, let’s see what NEEF—the organization which started it all—has been up to.

Sara - Wow, we’ve reached 10,000 Weather-Ready Nation ambassadors—and NEEF paved the way! Thank you for helping us launch this wildly successful initiative as the first organization to sign on. Can you reflect on NEEF's decision to jump in first to become the pioneer ambassador, and did you ever imagine we would grow our ranks to 10,000 strong?
Wow, indeed! Ten thousand Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors is an incredible accomplishment, and NEEF is thrilled to be part of the group. We've been collaborating with the National Weather Service for many years to deliver weather, climate, and environmental information to NEEF audiences, including broadcast meteorologists, educators, public lands managers, and healthcare providers. When we were presented with the opportunity to become a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador, it was a no-brainer—the alignment with our education mission was clear, and we loved the idea of bringing government and the private sector together to help build more resilient communities.

What does being an ambassador mean for NEEF? What motivates you to remain involved?
At NEEF, we help people connect to the environment in ways that are relevant to their daily lives. For many people, there's nothing more relevant and ever-present than the weather. As an ambassador, we're connected with resources and experts that help us communicate about the impacts of extreme weather with our networks. Just as important, we can give people actionable steps they can take to be prepared for extreme weather and protect their health, property, and communities.

Being an ambassador has also motivated NEEF staff to learn more about extreme weather, resilience, and communication. We participate in #SafePlaceSelfie Day and share seasonal campaign information with staff. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core to NEEF's mission and the way we approach our work, so we have also appreciated learning about how National Weather Service ensures that critical information reaches the deaf and hard of hearing, disability, and non-English speaking communities.

NOAA created the Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador initiative out of recognition that the government alone could not reduce weather-related injury and death. Ambassadors become a force multiplier in helping to raise awareness about weather safety threats, which results in more people taking action to ensure their safety. What other benefits do you see in this unique safety education partnership between the government and American organizations and businesses?
One of the greatest benefits we see to this partnership is consistent messaging developed by a trusted source. The materials NOAA provides through the seasonal safety campaigns helps ensure that Americans hear the same messages about weather safety and preparedness from NEEF and other Ambassadors, eliminating confusion and encouraging people to take action.

What is NEEF doing to help America become a more weather-ready nation?
Each month, NEEF includes a Weather-Ready Nation feature in our e-newsletter, NEEF Connect, based on seasonal safety campaigns and other ambassador resources. We also actively look for ways to include information about weather safety and preparedness in our programs and events. For example, we integrated sun safety education into National Public Lands Day, the nation's largest volunteer event for public lands, encouraging people to take steps to protect themselves from the sun while volunteering.

We have come a long way together in the past 7 years, which makes me wonder what the future holds for the initiative and our 10,000 ambassadors. Where do you see the ambassador program heading in the future, and how do you see NEEF's role evolving with the nation's changing needs for weather safety information?
We certainly think the number of ambassadors will continue to grow! With such a large network, we'd like to look for ways that we can more fully collaborate with other ambassadors to strengthen the message and the movement. We also want to explore how we can deliver more weather safety information to the healthcare providers we work with—physicians, school nurses, community health workers—who in turn can reach patients and families with critical information that will help them stay safe.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
NEEF is honored to have been the first Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador and to now be part of such a powerful network. We are excited to be delivering weather safety information alongside 10,000 other organizations!