Lindsey Slater’s ’08 public service announcement starts with the memory of crawling out of her brother’s bedroom window onto her family’s roof with a camera to capture images of approaching storms. She was just a kid then, of course, and as a professional meteorologist now, she strictly advises against hanging out amid bad storms – the official PSA. She does, though, look to those early days to find the root of her interest and passion for weather.
She was in the fourth grade when her parents bought her the camera she would use to shoot dark clouds over her house. “It was a pretty good indicator that I thought weather would be cool,” she said. “Severe weather is fascinating. It can change on a dime.”
The story of her path from being the weather kid behind the camera to a meteorologist in front of the camera for WISN 12 in Milwaukee is one she will share as keynote speaker for Carroll’s 2019 Alumnae Leadership Luncheon on August 14. The luncheon will take place at the Carroll University Center for Graduate Studies, 2140 Davidson Rd, Waukesha, WI 53186. The cost is $25 per person.
Lindsey’s speech title, “It’s About the Journey,” reflects on her own life and educational experiences that she hopes to share in a message in which she notes, “It’s more about learning to appreciate every part of the journey. It’s not the end yet. Don’t feel like you’ve gotten to your goal. Where you are at this moment is where you are supposed to be.”
Her journey toward meteorology might have started on the rooftop of her childhood home but her interest in weather was actually something that she only considered a hobby. She initially set her sights on a career as a veterinarian when she enrolled as a freshman in 2004 at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. Then in her third semester, her then-boyfriend and now husband, Mark, posed a question that changed the course of her career. She was “freaking out about there being a huge storm over Eau Claire,” she said.
“He said, ‘Can you do anything with that, with the weather?’ I was like ‘What? You want me to be Mark Baden (chief meteorologist at WISN 12 in Milwaukee). He said, ‘You could be’.”
She was getting good grades at Eau Claire but honestly wasn’t enjoying the experience, she said, and headed back home to Franklin, Wis. She enrolled at Carroll, already rooted in the family legacy of the school where her dad, Dennis Slater, had graduated in 1980. Her aunt, Dina (Slater) Ziegenhorn, also graduated from Carroll in 1989.
Lindsey said she found at Carroll an experience she had been missing at a larger school: a personal connection to her classes and professors. One professor in particular, Dr. David Block, now retired from Carroll, helped encourage her path toward meteorology as she studied environmental science. He advocated for internships and Lindsey secured two during her junior year: one with the National Weather Service and one at WISN 12, going to work for Mark Baden himself.
“The internship with Baden was a game changer,” she said. “I could totally see myself doing this. It would be scary as heck to get there but could be a lot of fun.”
She was one of the few environmental science majors at Carroll not going into environmental science per se but found that her degree helped her later to better understand what was happening at the ground level during weather events as she deepened her learning with meteorology specifically. The months following her 2008 graduation from Carroll proved busy with a move to Madison for another internship at WKOW, a wedding three months later, and then another move with her new husband to Jackson, Mississippi when she landed her first job in TV in the deep south in 2009 at Fox affiliate WDBD-TV.
While working in Jackson, she earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University. In her experience, she covered the now historic tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011 and major flooding along the Mississippi River. Her next move took her to Springfield, Missouri in 2012, one year after an EF-5 tornado struck Joplin. She covered everything from severe storms to snow and ice. Then in 2016, she returned home to WISN 12.
Her own journey took her from Carroll to the deep south and back, allowing her experiences that she says has enhanced her knowledge and know-how in her job today.
“We made it work and it was super cool,” she said.