Heath Hockenberry

Heath Hockenberry

Heath Hockenberry
National Weather Service

Location: Boise, ID
Office: Analyze, Forecast & Support Office (AFSO)
Job Title: National Fire Weather Program Manager

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Meteorology from Penn State University

Describe the career path that led you to your current job with the National Weather Service.

  • I volunteered! The 2000 fire season was intense and several volunteer meteorologists were needed to support the fire crews and camps. I offered my services as an Incident Meteorologist (IMET) and gained the experience needed to secure my current position.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • I provide programmatic direction and leadership for Fire Weather forecast services. This includes policy, budget requests, inter-agency coordination and the formation of necessary partnerships.

What was the most interesting, exciting, or impactful weather/water event you experienced while working for the NWS and why does it stand out?

  • Working at the Deepwater-Horizon oil spill was the most challenging event of my career. Even though this was not a fire, the front-line crews relied on my forecast experience to make strategic and tactical decisions for the entire two weeks I was deployed to Venice, LA.

What made you decide to pursue a career with the NWS?

  • I've loved weather since I can remember, and grew up close to Penn State. It was quite a natural fit to get a degree and pursue a career in the NWS.

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • I really enjoy serving partner agencies and watching my forecasts actually being applied to the decision-making processes of others.

What advice do you have for someone interested in a career with the NWS?

  • It's not just the science. It's the trust you build with communicating certainty and accuracy to your partners.

What training or coursework would you recommend to someone interested in following your career path?

  • English! You absolutely must write and communicate well.
  • Social science. Learn how your customers think and react.
  • Oh yes… get a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Atmospheric Sciences!