Kathy Sabine’s ag background makes her an important asset as a Colorado meteorologist
August 24, 2018
Kathy Sabine, chief meteorologist for Denver's 9 News, knows Colorado weather matters to Colorado farmers and ranchers and that knowledge, paired with her background, makes her a port in the storm.
Sabine, who has been on 9 News for 25 years and is on air for more daily newscasts than any other meteorologist in the country, said she's been horse crazy since growing up in northern California in a rural cabin in the woods. Her dad's family has ranching roots in Washington, which she said piqued her interest in riding, competing and training horses beginning when she was 11 years old.
"I was the first person in my family to go to college," she said. "I paid my own way and I was going to be a veterinarian."
Sabine's initial degree is in animal science and agriculture business from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif. While working her way through college, she had various jobs including exercising endurance horses from the Bay Area, acclimating them to altitude, and then returning them in competition shape to the lower altitude where they would compete.
"While going through school, I had a horse and a bike and had two jobs and was taking 22 credits," she said. "I really started to get nervous about affording the second four years of school and felt like I should really get out and start working to support myself."
OPTIONS AND STRENGTHS
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After weighing her options and strengths, and recognizing her love for writing and communications, she earned a degree in meteorology and jumped into journalism. She interned at the television station in San Luis Obispo behind the scenes and, by doing so, fell into television journalism.
"The animal science and ag business degree has really served me well here in Colorado," she said. "Having that background in ag and knowing a little about it is helpful. That's what a lot of our audience is here — agriculture interest. It's a really big ag population."
She said she knows many of her viewers have high stakes when it comes to weather. Even in the limited amount of time she is afforded during a broadcast, she tries to give the most vital information to producers in rural areas, whether it's an unexpected storm, freeze or severe weather like that recently seen in northeastern Colorado that was so devastating to agricultural producers.
"Rain can really be a good thing but it can be a bad thing, depending upon what's happening with the wheat and the corn," she said. "I always send a special shout out to the livestock managers if we have a big drop in temperatures or snow coming. We've had horrible events out on the plains of eastern Colorado where herds were stranded because they didn't have enough warning."
She's mindful, this year, of the drought conditions many in the state are experiencing, leading to high hay costs, which she said will affect so many, including herself. She typically raises a hay crop on her property but this year, it's harder to come by.
"We're coming off a couple of La Nina years and the prediction is that we're going into an el Nino winter, which would mean less cold and less wind and more rain and big snows," she said.
Her background in agriculture has made her a valuable commodity during the state's large agriculture events like the National Western Stock Show, where she has been a fixture during the Junior Market Livestock Sale for nearly 20 years.
"That's so much fun meeting those kids and hearing their stories," she said. "All of that hard work and an auction like that, their lives can change in one night. It's my favorite event, it's where I feel most at home."
She has spent many summers at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo, Colo., and is a past board member. She said she appreciates the event, its growth each year, and how it gathers so many different people, all with different stories to tell. She said Pueblo is a country music hub during the fair, drawing diverse acts for all groups to enjoy.
"It's not just Cheyenne Frontier Days or the National Western Stock Show," she said. "The Colorado State Fair is changing. People may have a perception of the fair and the area but if you go, it's magnificent. They do such a good job and there's world class competitors at every level there."
She is hoping to become more involved with the National Western Stock Show as the facility changes and grows.
"Hopefully that history will be preserved and appreciated and there's a way to integrate the old with the new," she said of the renovation of the yards. "That's important to those who have competed and the farmers and ranchers who come from all over. That place has a legacy." ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.