As autonomous organizations and each with their own local context, AMS Local Chapters take part in a wide variety of activities, including social events, educational conferences, and youth outreach. In order to help with chapter brainstorming and goal setting, we have collected examples of activities and projects that Local Chapters have pursued in the past. These include recruiting members, inviting guest speakers, networking with other groups, and taking part in a variety of social activities. You can read more below or download the PDF guide.
Please note that these suggestions are for general guidance only and the AMS does not advocate or vouch for any of these activities in particular.
No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Host a lunch where current members eat for free as long as they bring a non-member friend with them.
For variations, you could partner with a restaurant to offer discounted meals to members or turn this into a potluck and hold a raffle with an extra ticket for everyone that brings a non-member friend.
Networking in the Neighborhood
Invite other clubs, local groups, etc. to a networking event where you can get to know each other and identify common interests, activity opportunities, etc. You can keep this informal and have a happy hour get together or make it more formal, with presentations or joint discussions.
This is a great way to get to know other people in the area and create more content for future meetings by asking other groups to come present.
Everybody likes to win prizes! Put together a gift basket or other items and hold a drawing for every member that recruits a new member. Putting together talking points for members to help recruit new members is a good idea to pair with this. It will help with marketing materials and makes it easier to recruit at any time.
Asking guest speakers to present at a Local Chapter meeting is a tried and true method for getting great meeting content. Some chapters offer quarterly speaker events; others do annual conferences with several speakers at once. Some chapters open their events to the general public; other chapters only allow their own members to attend.
The timing and number of speakers that you ask to provide content at your meetings will vary depending on your location and membership. It is often easier to get speakers if your chapter is attached to or near a university with a meteorology department and there are professors doing research into relevant topics. Non-local speakers can also be invited to share their research, experience, or ideas digitally via Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.
In addition to professors, speakers often include local broadcast meteorologists, National Weather Service staff, emergency managers, and also Local Chapter members themselves who are able share their professional or research experiences with the rest of the group.
Other ways to find speakers are to think outside the box. Many chapters partner with geologists, anthropologists, historians, ecologists, or other disciplines to create good discussion opportunities. Weather, climate, atmospheric and meteorological sciences impact basically everything. It can be exciting for both chapter members and the general public to discuss how weather changes trade, migration patterns, economic development, war, plant distribution, etc.
You can also consider partnering with local nonprofits or other social clubs to share content back and forth at meetings or identify volunteer projects for your chapter to take part in.
Local Chapters provide a crucial pathway for all types of people to learn about careers in Meteorology, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences. When Local Chapters host career events they help to keep those scientific fields growing and thriving. Career events have included
- Graduate School Panel - invite graduate students to come speak with your chapter about life in graduate school and their pathway to the sciences
- National Weather Service Panel - Many chapters host their local or national weather service staff as a guest speaker or invite multiple speakers to create a panel or career day.
- Tour of National Weather Service Offices - Touring your nearest NWS Office can be a great way to meet new people and learn how best to launch a NWS career.
- Tour a Local TV Station - Many broadcast meteorologists are willing to give local AMS chapters a tour of their studio and discuss television careers with members.
As a way to increase meeting content and meet new people, some chapters hold joint meetings (annually or regularly) with other professional organizations, social clubs or departments from their universities. This allows them to explore the impact of the atmospheric sciences on a wide variety of disciplines and to keep meeting content enriching. Regular partnerships include
- American Geophysical Union
- American Association of Geographers (or Geography Department)
- United States Geological Survey (or Geology Department)
- National Weather Association Local Chapters
- Other AMS Chapters
Most chapters like to include social events in their yearly programming that are dedicated to getting to know one another and sharing their love of weather and atmospheric science. These events can be paired with educational or outreach content, but are often separate. Examples include
- Ice Cream Social - as a summer event or a welcome back to school social
- Barbecues and Tailgating - many chapters like to host cookouts for their members or tailgate before a sporting event
- Camping or Mountain Excursions - for those chapters near forests and streams, camping is a great way to enjoy some bonding time. If people are lacking equipment they may be able to rent, borrow from a wilderness/adventure club on a college campus, or share items between members.
- Happy Hours - many chapters partner with local restaurants to hold happy hours with discounted drinks or host their own root beer float extravaganzas.
Local and AMS Mentors
Mentorship is an important way to retain members, help with career transitions, and advocate for science. Local Student Chapters often provide mentorship to incoming freshmen. This is a benefit to the university as a whole as well as to the Local Chapter since mentorship has been seen to increase rates of overall student retention as well as with chapter member retention.
Regular chapter members often provide mentorship to students that aren’t as far along in their careers or need advice finding their next steps.
The AMS Career Services Department also connects national members with the Mentoring365 program along with a number of other Earth science organizations. Learn more here.
Download the Activity Guide