Outreach Activities

Campus and Community College Outreach

Figure 7. A class visit from Parkland Community College.

We held two outreach events: one geared towards  our  campus  community  and  visits from Parkland Community College, and one later in the week for the community. Given that the DOW visit corresponded with National Severe  Weather  Awareness  Week,  as  well  as the first tests of the local tornado sirens of the season, Professor Hence coordinated with two graduate students (one active in emergency management research, the other active in K-12 outreach and education) as well as the UIUC Student  Chapter  of  the  American Meteorological  Society  (SCAMS) to  organize the events around severe weather awareness and hazard preparation.

The campus outreach event was held in the DOW's parking space next to Atmospheric Sciences, which we had rented from the university for the duration of the campaign. The campus event was advertised to all of the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations cultural houses, science and engineering-focused registered student organizations, as well as to faculty and staff through the various campus newsletters and publications (Inside Illinois, Eweek, etc). A press release was also sent to the Daily Illini (student newspaper).

Figure 8. A science journalism student doing her class project on the DOW. View online.

Unfortunately, likely due to cold, wet weather attendance was low, but as planned three classes (ranging from 10-20 students per class) from  Parkland  Community  College's  Weather 101 class came for tours of the DOW, as well as a scattering of other students throughout the open house period of the day. A science journalism student interviewed Professors Rauber, Frame, and Hence as well as covered the two events as one of her class projects, which was put on YouTube as well as on the local student television station. In these ways, we contributed to the education of a variety of students in our collegiate community.

Community Engagement

Although it was still a bit cold and windy, the severe  weather  preparedness  community event  met  with  greater  success. The Illinois Exchange advertised the event as part of their own severe weather preparedness community outreach.  The  department  issued  press releases to Channel 3 WCIA, the News-Gazette (local newspaper), and WILL (local NPR station). WCIA interviewed Professor Rauber and notified the community of the event. Local schools were notified of the event and flyers were  distributed  for  children  to  take  home. The event was held in a highly visible, well- trafficked parking lot on the south side of campus, close to the athletic fields and campus arboretum.

Figure 9. Local news coverage of the severe weather preparedness event. View online.

In addition to giving tours of the DOW, we were able to have a representative from the American Red Cross available to give community members informational pamphlets and coloring books for children. We also had two informational posters; one poster explained the meanings of watches and warnings in relation to typical Illinois hazardous weather phenomena, while the other had examples of a variety of emergency preparedness kits for adults, children, and pets. Professor Hence contributed her home emergency kits as hands- on visual examples. All told, the event reached 50-60 people over a 4 hour period and reached a range of children, with some visitors being as young as 3-6 years old.