ARCHIVED: National Association of Storm Chasers

OK...this will answer a question. Anybody that is interested in trying to organize an association for storm chasers reply here. If you have no interest in being involved in this type of organization, do not reply on here saying that you are not and/or the reasons you would not. This is a thread to gather information from those that are actually interested, and what they see as some of the goals of such an association should be. It is not a thread to argue why anybody thinks and/or feels that there should not be any type of association.

I would especially like to hear any ideas that you have for interacting with the public (especially in the off season), such as school visits, exhibits, ect.
 
Chris - I was going to hold off on making a post in this direction until a few things could be determined - but since the subject is suddenly exploding, it might be better to go ahead with some suggestions. It should be noted primarily that not everyone in the chase community is in favor of organization that protects them. So this discussion is simply based in terms of proposal to generate further exchange of ideas at this point.

The following is an off-list e-mail sent to Amos, Tim Vasquez and Tim Marshall concerning this subject yesterday:

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It is becoming increasingly clear that some type of structure is required to represent storm chasers in the media and government authority. As time goes on, the utilization of a mouthpiece organization to aid in the establishment of peaceful relations with communities, emergency management, law enforcement and government agencies, and to promote awareness and safety guidance, is quickly becoming more necessary.

I will be speaking with one of my attorneys to discuss the feasibility of maintaining a non-profit organization involved in the establishment and promotion of safe and ethical practice, and more importantly - to serve as a media outlet for the voice of the community and chasers everywhere, no matter what their purpose in chasing may be (enthusiast, media, scientist, student, tourist, etc.). There will need to be some discussion of this among serious chasers who are interested in promoting a structure that would ultimately benefit and protect them, serving their interests to a greater degree as time goes on.

To function, the goals of the organization would need to be clear, with an established mission statement and set of standards. Membership might be voluntary, possibly through a voluntary certification process (this situation is very similar to that of paralegals across the country right now, which also use a similar organization to represent them ... known as NALA - http://www.nala.org ).

Membership benefits would include recognition as an individual interested in the promotion of safe and ethical practice, and eligibility to participate in a merit system to recognize and reward those actively involved in the promotion of the activity. As time goes on, chasers who are not members will become more and more inclined to want to become such, simply so they can have a voice in the world, with international media, and before government.

Let me know if this is something that interests you and merits further discussion. You've been contacted privately, off-list. Please maintain confidentiality in this matter until we have the opportunity to discuss its feasibility at length.

If you are aware of other chasers who might be interested in talking about this matter further, and who would also possibly represent the community positively, please offer some names to contact.

I would be interested in talking to a full range of individuals about this from every walk of chaser life. Everyone would need some form of representation, with preference given to no particular group or individual. The ones most actively involved would obviously need to be those of the highest caliber, who already demonstrate a strongly positive influence in the eyes of others.

Let me know if you think something along this line is desirable, and if you feel it is do-able. Currently, a sort of vigilante spirit seems to exist in the community, which involves more lashing out publically than working toward some clear-cut and meaningful goals that actually do some good. We need to get some sort of positive public relations in motion, or everyone will soon be feeling the effects.

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Following this email I spoke with one of my attorneys - a partner in my firm who is quite capable and well-versed in non-profit organizations.

For this organization to function properly, the board of directors cannot come from the ranks of chasers like you or me. We would need direction from a core of long-term, recognizable chasers who are willing to serve on the board for this to be successful.

It would also require endorsement from key agencies. The organization needs to have a functioning legal structure, likely that of a non-profit corporation. The umbrella agency merely acts toward specific, key goals:

*that of serving as the mouthpiece or public relations agency for storm chasers

*protecting and serving the interests of chasers themselves by endorsing and promoting education on severe weather, chasing ethics and responsibility, and the basic meteorology involved

A sample mission statement might go something like (and I had considered a name like A.W.E. - for Association of Weather Enthusiasts, but you can insert your favorite acronym here):

The Association of Weather Enthusiasts will maintain a key and active role in the promotion and defense of safe and ethical storm chasing practice, the promotion of severe weather awareness and education, and the promotion of positive relations between storm chasers and government agencies, including the National Weather Service, NOAA, the Storm Prediction Center, local law enforcement and local emergency management. The A.W.E. also serves as a mouthpiece for individuals involved in the pursuit of severe weather, acting as a clearing house and public relations structure for international media groups.

Examples of activities of the Association may include:

*implementation of a VOLUNTARY certification process

*issuance and revocation powers for certificates

*organization and delivery of semi-annual seminars, in which chasers receive specific training

*the monitoring and delivery of news to members that affects their ability to chase freely

*the monitoring and delivery of news to the media concerning chaser activities and the benefits that chasers have.

These are just a few ideas - I'm sure this will be an active discussion, but hopefully you can see that taking a serious direction is the only way to go with something of this nature. It cannot be another SCOA or Stormtrack, or anything even remotely similar. The legalities are easy to care for, as I understand that aspect of the process well. However, marketing is another story - and will be a challenge - requiring additional support from other agencies.
 
In the interest of developing a program to better enable storm chasing's image and detail, I would support such a program. I would be interested in information on this if and when it appears certain such an organization or entity is imminent. My thoughts:

1. As long as it's board of directors, as stated above, are recognized, experienced chasers who have the interest of chasers' best interests and goals in mind.

2. As long as chasing as a whole maintains a degree of independence. If I have to start taking log books with me such as a security guard would have to and report in, not interested.

3. I am all for the advocation of safe and responsible chasing. There has been way too much talk in the storm chasing ranks and absolutely no action. If this will help even minutely, count me in.

I wil edit this post to include more points as I ponder the idea further. Mike, the proposal outlined above is well written, well thought of and legally balanced. Chris, thanks for starting this thread and supporting action instead of mere words -- I get tired of the same thing brought up year end and year out with nothing being done. Yes, this MAY change chasing...but it may just allow us to keep on doing it.

I will volunteer in any capacity my skills and talents enable me to. Contact me for specifics via PM.
 
Concerning the individual's ability to chase independently and maintain whatever manner they do it currently - this structure would have no power over the individual's right to pursue their interests. As noted, it merely provides a structure for maintaining strong relations with various agencies and the media, and provides a basis for promoting safe chase practices that by far the majority of chasers already adhere to on their own.
 
I would gear up Stormtrack to openly support such an organization as long as it overlaps with the vision of Stormtrack, and is non-profit and has a mechanism for bringing in a fresh, democratically-elected leadership annually.

The main problem I see though is getting volunteer work (and possibly an active leadership). I was part of the core group that started the International Weather Watchers in 1993, and many of us flew out to a founding meeting in Baltimore. Though the numbers swelled into the hundreds, with large annual meetings, the organization died a few years later because of a profound lack of volunteer initiative. It was a metaphorical Cadillac propped up on cinder blocks. By 1997 its assets were sold off and it was dissolved. Sad! It might also be educational to take a look at the history of TESSA... only several people have been involved with this organization over the past twelve years and it has remained fairly low-key for an organization of it stature. Likewise I can see this chaser organization starting as an excellent concept, but dying because the leadership is busy with their personal life and the members fairly uninvolved. So I see this as by far the biggest hurdle.

If the organization does get going, some key objectives I see:

1. Promoting safety and a code of ethics.

2. Fostering the free flow of knowledge between all storm chasers.

3. Working to avoid alienating chasers who choose to be independent, which would segregate the hobby.

4. Recognizing chasers who strive for excellence; even those who aren't members.

5. Promoting fair dealings with chasers by the media by educating and informing its members about rates, procedures, and advice on how to handle interviews. This is arguable of course as Fox can instead interview rowdy Bob Bassmaster, get his free tornado video, and present a worse image of chasers, but let's talk about that in a different thread.

If the ball starts rolling on this I will set up a separate forum category for issues relating to this organization.

Tim
 
Tim - to overcome the hurdle concerning lack of volunteer support is to structure the organization to function like most other non-profits that are successful:

-Being non-profit, the Board of Directors do not profit from the progress of the company itself. In non-profit organizations, the funds are channeled back into the organization to promote its growth. However, once the board meets and finalizes the by-laws, deciding on the ultimate way that things will be organized, one of them can be hired by the organization (or someone from outside the board can be hired, either way) to oversee the administration of the organization itself. This person would be salaried, but such salary would be based solely on the organization's ability to receive funding ... this of course would mandate that whoever ultimately performs that function would NEED to be skilled with marketing, organization and the functioning of an organization such as this one. This person may not even be a chaser ... but they are rather someone who knows how these ventures operate and grow. The compensation for this position is generally meager - especially the first year. But it would encourage the person selected to actually go after the work and keep things in motion, operating it like any business.
 
Originally posted by Tim Vasquez

The main problem I see though is getting volunteer work (and possibly an active leadership). I was part of the core group that started the International Weather Watchers in 1993, and many of us flew out to a founding meeting in Baltimore. Though the numbers swelled into the hundreds, with large annual meetings, the organization died a few years
Tim

Tim...

We could hold the annual meeting at Rocky's place! Let's just replace the "Storm Chaser party" with "Storm Chaser Meeting" ... and hold elections there! LOL .. Granted the Nat'l Storm Chaser Conference has done quite well, I'm told, the past couple of years too... I think if we can combine it with one of these two high-profile (relatively lol) and popular gatherings, we wouldn't have a problem with dwindling numbers...

EDIT: Ok ok ok, I wasn't trying to say that we should replace those two events with an Association meeting... But perhaps we could somehow put the meeting at the end of the storm chasers convection.. So, like the convection ends at 1pm... Then spend 2-3 hrs after that for the meeting (kinda like the TESSA meeting after the FTW Skywarn spotting class)... I duno, I was just figuring that many chasers are already there, so it'd be convenient to have one after the other...
 
Also - one of the offerings to members might be annual continuing education, in which further in-depth training is provided (meteorological, etc.) ... I don't know anyone who wouldn't want to learn more about some of the deeper aspects. Combining it with an already established conference is a good idea, as most folks are already there. Could be linked to events such as that in Des Moines, or in OKC, or both.
 
Put me down - I just posted in another thread the suggestion for a centralized media organization to put out positive stories and information about chaser activities and how they help people and research.

Centralized education and training sources would be great too!

Make it so!
 
I think this is an excellent start, if for no other reason than to centralize ideas for publicity releases, media contact (that does not involve financial gain) and to prove that we're at least THINKING about exposing new chasers to various ideas about safety. Obviously people will make up their own mind after hearing these ideas, but there's no harm in making them public, centralized, and readily available to the media.

It's pretty well known in governmnet circles that a well-written and pertinent press release will often become a news story with only modest changes. Not that reporters are lazy, but if much of the work is done for them, like all of us, they don't mind. There are many gifted writers, videographers, photographers, web designers, and other in this community--we're certainly capable of presenting what we KNOW to be true about the majority of chasers and the benefits of chasing.
 
Jumping on the band wagon

Since I've jumped up and posted a few times, I'll put my words to action. I'll jump on in whatever capacity you would have me. Since I currently chase pretty much for a local radio station, there's that possibility.

If it's formed, I will jump on.

John Diel
 
Im a long way from the close nitt group you have in the Alley but will
support anything that will benifit all chasers spotters and us newer folk
in potraying a better light on this hobby.Somthing has to be done and
i see some great ideas as i read the posts.Its good to see.
 
I'm in.

A real organization needs real leadership though. Veteran storm chasers will be essential on the board, but they will also need to be experienced businessmen as well.
 
National Storm Chasers Association

I definitely support a National Storm Chasers Association, would definitely join and would have no problem doing volunteer work in support of such organization!!
 
I don't really have any other ideas of my own at the moment, but I would certainly be willing to join such a group and help out in any way possible as time permits.
 
Originally posted by Jeff Snyder+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Jeff Snyder)</div>
<!--QuoteBegin-Tim Vasquez

The main problem I see though is getting volunteer work (and possibly an active leadership). I was part of the core group that started the International Weather Watchers in 1993, and many of us flew out to a founding meeting in Baltimore. Though the numbers swelled into the hundreds, with large annual meetings, the organization died a few years
Tim

Tim...

We could hold the annual meeting at Rocky's place! Let's just replace the "Storm Chaser party" with "Storm Chaser Meeting" ... and hold elections there! LOL .. Granted the Nat'l Storm Chaser Conference has done quite well, I'm told, the past couple of years too... I think if we can combine it with one of these two high-profile (relatively lol) and popular gatherings, we wouldn't have a problem with dwindling numbers...[/b]

Of all the reasons not to do this, there's the biggest one........conventions are taking over what used to be fun-filled, intimate gatherings centered around entertainment, not education. The Colorado chaser party used to be one of the best in existence, but it's been ruined by the annual convention which is all business and learning. To eliminate Rocky's party and turn it into some political dogshow would basically erase all chase parties, period.

I was going to keep my mouth shut (as requested by Chris [thread-starter]), but I have to step up to the plate for the sake of FUN in chasing. Let's not ruin our last venue of FUN by turning it into another convention/election full of nothing but speakers and merchants pimping gear.
 
If you elect a Board of Directors, have the election held annually
and individuals should have a term limit of a year or two. This way
you can have new people involved with different ideas every year
and you avoid it becoming elitism.

Mike
 
Agreed. 2 years, maximum. Im sure there are enough experienced, level headed veteran chasers out there willing to step up to the plate.
 
Originally posted by mikegeukes
If you elect a Board of Directors, have the election held annually
and individuals should have a term limit of a year or two. This way
you can have new people involved with different ideas every year
and you avoid it becoming elitism.

Mike

Tim V.'s post was similar, and this would likely be necessary.
 
I also agree with Shane's point here. While a need for an organization exists in my mind, this HAS to be fun in the process. While we are doing this for "business" reasons, no one wants to be a part of something that isn't fun. That is why we chase after all, right? If all of us here made big $$$ chasing, then it may be a different story.

I'm a part of numerous volunteer organizations, and I must say that if they weren't any fun, I wouldn't sacrifice my time. Because they are fun, and support a good cause, I devote more time to them than I probably should :)
 
In keeping with the goal of the thread per Chris' instructions - I'll start a separate debate thread in the everything else room to give a voice to any concerns, which are certainly worth considering.
 
For those that enjoy this type of thing...a great way to win points with the general population is through the kids. 2-3 people that are willing to go to schools and put on a demo could do alot of good for the chase community. I have had several teachers recently ask if I would be willing to put on some type of program. This is wonderful PR, and could possibly be coordinated with the NWS and local Emergency Management offices.
 
I love that too, Chris - I've done it with a kindergarten and 1st grade class ... and it's a ton of fun to get the kids' reactions (and hear their questions - hilarious). Anyway, they love the video and are really interested usually. Then parents tell me they talk about tornadoes for days afterward ...
 
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