What does it take to put together a symposium?

Joey Ketcham

Ok, I can’t contain myself any longer… so I sit here at 1:30 AM to post my thoughts and ideas and hopefully get some great feedback.. or hey maybe even someone who would want to help!

We all know that southeast Kansas gets its fair share of violent tornadoes and thunderstorms. Looking back I recall the F3 tornado of April 19th, 2000 that ripped apart Parsons Kansas, and then the violent tornadoes that hit southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri on May 4th of 2003.

People here in Kansas have since taken severe weather seriously and a lot of that is because people here have now seen first hand what tornadoes can do in a matter of second!

Some of you may or may not remember when I use to work at a local TV station here in Pittsburg KS/Joplin Missouri, but when I did our Meteorologist hosted a presentation each year in different communities around southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri and even northeast Oklahoma called the “Strong Skies Tourâ€.

Basically the Met and the Weather Anchors would travel around to these communities and would have a hour – 2 hour long presentation about severe weather and its effects and how to protect yourself during severe weather.

During the presentation they would show video, photographs, and diagrams and people just loved it. Every year it became more and more popular so much that they would have to move to another location due to it’s increase of popularity.

However, since I left it has gone downhill because now the new Met at the station holds it during the middle of the day at a random few schools around the area… so because of the odd time, not many people attends anymore.

Now several people who learned about my previous employment at the TV station would indicate to me how much they loved the presentation and how they wished it was back to how it was.

So over the past few months up until now my thought is this; why not hold a Severe Weather Symposium right here in Pittsburg Kansas in spring of 2006? The location here is centralized, meaning we’re not far from Wichita, KC, Springfield, or Oklahoma City, and I would bet my life that the turnout for it would just be amazing!

So my thought is why not bring together some TV Mets, NWS Meteorologists, NSSL researchers/scientists, and even storm chasers and storm spotters and have this Symposium opened to the public for everyone to come and learn about the National Weather Service, NSSL, what goes on, and storm chasers can talk about what storm chasing is about and the dangers involved, what Skywarn is and the role of storm spotting.

There are hundreds of topics that could be covered. We could have someone from ICT come in and talk about the events of April 19th of 2000 and maybe show photos, videos and what not of what happened that day, and then someone from SGF NWS could talk about May 4th of 2003 and what happened that day and also show video, photos and whatever.

I would really love to make something like this happen, I honestly would bet my life that this would have a huge turnout!

So I want to know, what does it take to make this possible? I could take care of finding a place to host it, maybe even the advertising of it.. and many many many other things..

Maybe even put together a committee of people to make this happen?

I know this is kind of long, but this is honestly something that’s been weighing on my mind for literally months! I would give anything to make this possible!

Any ideas? Would anyone be willing to help make this happen and try and help find speakers that would attend?

Symposium Planning

My name is Jeremy Bower and I was the Co-Coordinator of the 9th Annual Ohio Severe Weather Symposium that took place at the Fawcett Center in Columbus, OH back on April 15. The event was very successful as we had several well-known speakers that include:

Dr. Josh Wurman (Center for Severe Weather Research)
Dr. Louis Uccellini (Director, National Centers for Environmental Prediction)
Dan McCarthy (Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Storm Prediction Center)
Dr. Harold Brooks (National Severe Storms Laboratory)
Rick McCoy (Director of Emergency Managment for Van Wert County, OH)
Tim Vasquez (WeatherGraphics)

The key is to get some well known figures in the field to come and give presentations at the event. It is very important though that you can't contact these people fairly early (up to as much as 8-9 months before the actual event). The reason being is that these guys' schedules do indeed fill up quickly and it doesn't hurt to make your intentions known as early as possible.

Location of the event is also crucial. You want an area that is fairly easy to find and also is suitable for hosting such an event. Our conference is held at the Fawcett Center and it makes convenient for people in that it has plenty of parking areas and its pretty easy to find if you're unfamilar with the area.

Some of the things we do for our speakers is that we pay for their airfare and hotel lodging (lodging that is close to the site of the Symposium), we also get as many of them gathered at a restaurant that we also pay for in order to talk about the tasks at hand (you get a bunch of meteorology people together, conversations tend to flow by themselves :) ). We also get them a nice gift (doesn't have to be extragavant or anything) to show our appreciation for them coming out to the event. (Check out a place called Things Remembered for this).

For the first Symposium try looking into nearby National Weather Service Offices and see if there would be employees willing to come and present on a topic.

Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions at [email protected]