Damon Ward remembers his grandfather telling him stories about hopping in his car as a young man and chasing storms and tornados, and that’s all it took for Ward to realize he wanted to be a storm chaser. Well, that and the movie Twister.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I enjoyed the weather … anytime it’s bad weather or raining I’m outside,” he said. “I prefer to be out in that weather. I’ll either sit and watch it rain or watch the lightning, and then as a kid, once I saw the movie ‘Twister’ I fell in love with it. I still watch it. I watched it last night, actually.”
Ward recently graduated from Barton’s Fort Leavenworth Campus and is headed to Emporia State University to study Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology.
Ward, 21, started out at ESU, but quickly fell almost half a year behind.
“I tried to treat it like high school, and before I could get it turned around it was too late,” he said.
Barton provided an opportunity for him to get back on track and he was able to catch up completely by finishing 72 credit hours in only two years.
“The teachers here gave me everything I needed and more to prepare for the classes, and any questions I had they were able and willing to answer,” he said. “They just do everything they can to help you. It was an amazing experience.”
One thing that attracted Ward to studying weather is a desire to help people and plans to work as at a weather station before pursuing storm chasing.
“I want to know and understand weather before I just start chasing tornados and get out into the actual weather,” he said. “I want to work with all the tools like the weather balloons that they send up into the sky and stuff like that. If there is anything I can do to increase our warning time or anything I can do to make it to where it is safer for people, that’s really my main goal; to help people prepare for the weather.”
Ward plans to work at a weather station. “I definitely want to work behind the scenes,” he said. “I’m good at math and science but I’d for sure mess up with the teleprompter.”