Youth at the Donald E. Long Detention Center serve as weather ambassadors, providing important information during severe weather
August 31, 2022
As severe weather and the impacts of climate change mount in the Pacific Northwest, youth at the Donald E. Long Detention Center in northeast Portland are playing an important role in helping the community respond .
Young – serving NOAA certified Weather Ready Nation Ambassadors – provide critical information by taking weather measurements and making other observations which they then provide to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service and NASA.
“It’s not just something anyone can enroll in,” said Multnomah Education Service District science teacher Jennifer Hastings. “You must be chosen and prove that you have the skills and abilities to complete the program. That’s what I’ve incorporated into our school and our program here at the Donald E. Long Detention Center.
Students are part of the Community collaborative network against rain, hail and snow, or CoCoRaHS Network – a group of science-minded volunteers from all walks of life who help measure and map precipitation, such as rain, hail and snow, in their communities. From the Donald E. Long Recreation Center, Ambassadors collect rain data and check temperatures, humidity levels, wind direction and speed.
They also provide observations of cloud patterns and even take pictures of the sky – north, south, east and west. They submit this information to the CoCoRaHS network and their findings are immediately uploaded.
“It goes directly to the National Weather Service,” Hastings said. “They’re taking advantage of that, and it’s helping them with their reporting or if they want to do storm warnings, flash flood warnings as well as long-term data on seasonal drought and climate change.”
NASA receives their photos and cloud observations and compares them to ground observations; and returns a report verifying the submitted data and its accuracy.
“It really allows them to relate,” Hastings said. “The letters come back from NASA with their observations about them, and we show them in the classroom and they say, ‘No, you’re kidding’, and I say, ‘That’s your data’ and having the images, when they see them there, that’s when they get it and they’re hooked.
Video of Donald E. Long Detention Center Youth Serving as Weather Ambassadors
The program is part of the overall efforts of Multnomah County Juvenile Services Divisionthe Multnomah Educational Services District and many more to bring more prosocial, skill-building, and academic initiatives to young people involved in the juvenile justice system. The project integrates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and writing principles. Students can earn high school credits for their participation.
“We try to do things that are evidence-based, where we give kids the tools and the skills so they can change and have that opportunity while they’re here, so they can do better in the future. outside, so they don’t keep coming back,” said Karie Will, juvenile custody specialist and evidence-based practice manager at the Multnomah County Division of Juvenile Services.
Even if young people don’t understand all of the broader concepts at first, they are enthusiastic about it, said Kenny Sparks, a child care specialist who works closely with young people in custody. “They learn something new. They are energetic. They go out and study the rain gauge.
“They know how our actions affect the environment,” said Bladimir Cadena, child care specialist. “Ms. Hastings has done a lot about different parts of the weather and mother nature, like hurricanes and volcanoes.
Since the program launched last year, it has expanded to include a new high-end professional weather station mounted atop the detention center. The station provides live weather information including temperature, precipitation humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, UV exposure and soon water quality information. air to the detention center classroom and the National Weather Service.
The data is visible to the public and used by federal and local agencies.
“Anyone can log in and create a free account WeatherLink account and see the data,” Hastings said. “Young people have gone a step further by establishing a QR code for staff to access.
Staff can pass by and take a photo of the QR code, and it goes directly to the Weather Underground.”
Students also share weather and heat information, in English and Spanish.
“Part of our duty is to share weather warnings and messages about what is happening in the event of an emergency or extreme weather event and to put the information in the hands of locals and community members who may not not have that information or understand what the risk is or how to access local resources,” Hastings said.
Their work earns them not only high school credits, but also Certificates of Recognition and Appreciation from the National Weather Service.
“It’s not just a prize for participation,” Hastings said. “They have to show they can read the gauge and participate consistently, so it’s really special for them.”
“Everyone in their life, I don’t care who you are or where you are from, you have to make meaningful contributions in your life, for the greater good or the greater society,” said Todd Nicholson, director of the Multnomah Education Service District. “So being able to take this weather program and also use it as writing activities, science activities, math activities – it really gives students this notion of a life outside of the institution here.”
“NOAA, NASA and CoCoRaHS shared their gratitude specifically for these students here at the Donald E. Long Detention Center and publicly acknowledged their contributions as scientists through NOAA and through our Twitter class where we tweet updates as they happen,” Hastings said. .
“Young people are starting to see themselves as the young scientists they are,” she said. “It is their generation who will become our future geo-engineers who will make a significant contribution to solving climate change.”
Follow Hastings and student updates on TWITTER: @Alt_ed_olgy
“I love science and I’m learning a lot about how weather works instead of just using my phone. If I can become a teacher one day, I can tell students why we learn this, how the atmosphere works and how we interact with it.
“People always judge us that we are here, but they don’t know that behind the scenes we are helping the community. We do more than just learn about the weather and earn our science and math credits, we also earn real certification that shows we are able to identify dangerous weather hazards and know how to collect and report weather data. for the National Weather Service.”