To start off the 2003-2004 chapter year, the North Florida Chapter was left with an open position on the Executive Board. Past President Stephanie Abrams had just accepted a job with The Weather Channel in Atlanta, deciding to resign her position in the process. After an extensive interview period, during which four candidates vied for the open Officer At-Large position, Richie Schwerdt was named as Officer At-Large, due in large part to his standing within the community and fresh perspectives. Another of the candidates, Chris Bennett, was offered a newly created position as chair of the Science & Education Subcommittee, owing to his experience in managing such operations in the past.
Finally with a complete Executive Board, the North Florida Chapter, under the leadership of President Clark Evans and Vice-President Joe Marzen, was able to move forward. Summer 2003 was spent outlining goals for the year to come, with the first primary focus being increased activity with the national American Meteorological Society in the form of attendance at the Annual AMS Conference. Other programs included sponsoring of the Local Forecasting Contest run by the FSU Department of Meteorology, an increased focus on highlighting speakers at each chapter meeting, better organization of events within the chapter and establishing an outreach program. Over the course of the year, each of these elements were accomplished, building a strong foundation for years to come – all starting in the latter half of 2003. During this time, the chapter held monthly meetings from August to November, featuring speakers at all but the August organizational meeting.
Meeting attendance hit a high of about 40 members during this time; by the end of the chapter year, the chapter would have 50 members on its rolls. Additional activities included a canned food drive for ECHO Outreach Ministries in Tallahassee, as suggested by Richie Schwerdt; block seating for fifty at the Florida State-Miami college football game in October; social outings to the Florida State Reservation in October (as suggested by Secretary Robert Banks) and Crenshaw Lanes in December; and ultimate planning for January 2004′s trip to the 84th Annual AMS Conference in Seattle, WA.
The major function of the 2003-04 chapter year, as previously noted, revolved around the 2004 Annual AMS Conference. Through chapter encouragement and planning along with the national AMS and FSU Department of Meteorology, the chapter was able to send approximately twenty chapter members to the conference, whether by scholarship, assistantship, or departmental travel grants. For many, the trip was the first chance to attend a national conference and network with others in the field, attend presentations and conferences on hot topics in meteorology and more. Attendees also had the opportunity to help at the conference by manning the FSU Dept. of Meteorology’s booth in the Exhibit Hall at the conference. And, yes, there was some time for sightseeing as well. All in all, though, the conference was a success for all parties involved and a return trip to the 2005 AMS Conference in San Diego is expected.
That’s not to say, though, that all the chapter did in 2004 revolved around the AMS Conference. The chapter again held monthly meetings from January to March, featuring community presentations and speakers at each meeting. Another outreach program for ECHO, this time a clothing drive, was held in late winter. Softball ruled the social scene for the remainder of the chapter year, with a game held in early April. Fundraising efforts brought about pizza cards and t-shirts to the membership. But, two events stand out above the rest for the remainder of the chapter year – the commencement of the Science & Education outreach program and the Inaugural Chapter Banquet, both in early spring.
Headed by chair Chris Bennett, the Science and Education Subcommittee developed specific outreach plans for each of the appropriate grade levels to be targeted throughout the Tallahassee region, culminating with several class and school visits in March and April. Additionally, the chapter was the sole sponsor of the Riley Elementary Science Fair, judging projects and awarding top places in each category. A foundation was laid during this time to make outreach the cornerstone of the chapter. Finally, to wrap up the chapter year, Vice-President Joe Marzen organized, with the help of his Program Subcommittee, the Inaugural Chapter Banquet, held at the Silver Slipper in Tallahassee. Featuring Craig Fugate, the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, as the evening’s speaker, the banquet effectively wrapped up chapter activities for 2003-04 and allowed the incoming Executive Board, headed by Chris Bennett, to outline their plans for the forthcoming chapter year.