Milford meteorologist hosts weather camp for local kids

MILFORD — Veronica Piscitelli has always had a passion for the weather. Now she gets to combine that with her love of teaching children in the Milford Recreation Department’s inaugural meteorology camp.

“I love teaching kids and love being around kids,” said Piscitelli. “To be able to do that and combine it with my love for weather and meteorology is great.”

Piscitelli, a life-long Milford resident who recently graduated from Oklahoma with a degree in meteorology, pitched the idea of a youth meteorology camp to Bob Hays, a supervisor with the city’s Recreation Department.

“I thought it would be an interesting class. I was curious as far as the ages go,” Hays said. “There was supposed to be a younger age group and an older age group, but there was one younger child in the class, so she combined all of them to the older age class. I said alright, make sure you have stuff for everybody and make sure you take the younger child under your wing and run with it, and she is.”

The meteorology camp, called A World of Weather Camp, allows campers to learn all about the phenomena that occur in the atmosphere every day. Campers learn the science behind things from the water cycle to what makes up a thunderstorm.

“The camp has been going great,” said Piscitelli. “The kids know a lot about the weather for being such a young age. They range from first grade to fifth grade, so it’s really cool seeing them be so knowledgeable and interested at that age in the weather. They are also really excited and willing to do all the activities we have been doing. Like today, we made a cloud in a vase, and they were all in awe about it.”

Piscitelli said parents have had a positive reaction to the camp as well.

“The parents have loved it,” she said. “They came in so excited the first day they wanted to brag on their kids on how well they know the weather and how excited they were and how they have things at home that they do regarding weather experiments.”

Hays said the program has been going on without a hitch and everyone seems happy with it.

Piscitelli said one of her goals for the summer camp is to provide an outlet for the campers, who are as interested in meteorology as she was when she was their age.

“I really want to give these kids an opportunity to learn more about what they like doing and find new ways to learn about what they like doing, but also maybe introduce them to different branches or different things about meteorology they didn’t know about before,” said Piscitelli. “I also want to expand people who are meteorologists and get people excited about science. It’s going to be an important thing going into the future, especially with climate change and trying to be sustainable.”

For Piscitelli, her love for weather and meteorology started at an early age, and when she found out she could do meteorology as a career, she pursued it.

“The University of Oklahoma has one of the top programs in the country for meteorology. There are only select schools that offer the program as a degree in general,” she said. “But we have the National Weather Center on campus, which is the government building that houses branches of NOAA and the Storm Prediction Center, so everything we do is very hands-on with many different job paths that you can take in the future.”

Storms have always interested Piscitelli. If there was a thunderstorm, she would be looking out the window. She also enjoyed driving to the beach to watch the lightning over the water.

“I think the first thing was being introduced to TV meteorologists. I would watch the news before school, even as early as third grade,” said Piscitelli. “I didn’t watch cartoons before school, I would have Good Morning America or the Today Show on and really seeing the meteorologists there. It was a part I was always looking forward to and really intrigued me.”

Whenever there were significant weather events across the country, Piscitelli said she would be glued to The Weather Channel 24/7, watching all the live reporters in the strong winds and rains giving their live reports.

While she was in Oklahoma, Piscitelli was able to experience different weather than what she grew up with in Connecticut.

“I love the more severe weather, and it’s really cool to learn more about it because then we can find ways to educate people on them to make them less dangerous in the end,” said Piscitelli. “We got to go storm chasing and see big thunderstorms in Texas, and because it is so flat, you can see things miles away from a safe distance but still be able to see it all.”

Piscitelli said she would be excited to get an opportunity to work as a TV meteorlogist, since that was how she developed her love of meteorology. But for now, she plans to dedicate herself to studying how people react to weather warning systems.

“The kids are really interested in it,” he said. “I have a minor in psychology, and there is a good intersection nowadays with social science and weather specifically to do with the warning systems and how people perceive the information that we tell them.”

She said her final thesis project was on how severe flooding events affect people in their reaction to future events.

“So I really like the idea of how we can communicate the danger and the risk the person has for a weather event and not scare them too much, but make sure they take the right action to keep themselves safe,” she said.