Meet Wisconsin’s New Assistant State Climatologist

Bridgette Mason rounds out the new team at the Wisconsin State Climatology Office.

Bridgett Mason
Bridgett Mason

Bridgette Mason has been named the new assistant state climatologist for the Wisconsin State Climatology Office (SCO).

“I’m excited to serve as assistant director to the recently funded office. I’m passionate about the office’s mission of providing new and expanded climate services to support Wisconsin communities,” says Mason.

Mason has a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric sciences with an undergraduate minor in crop and soil management. Her undergraduate capstone research examined how severe convective systems and climate conditions impact crop vulnerability and damage during the growing season. Her graduate work focused on developing an extensive soil temperature climatology to support agricultural decision making.

Mason has been a climate-smart agriculture fellow at the USDA Midwest Climate Hub since August 2023, researching climate change impacts on cropping systems in the Midwest and developing outreach materials to support state and regional groups. She also brings experience working with environmental datasets to support stakeholder decision making, including using weather and phenology data to help prevent frost damage in grape cultivars and investigating historical and projected climates to more-accurately estimate agricultural emissions. 

“Mason’s background working with rural communities and agriculture stakeholders to communicate weather and climate information will be a welcome addition to the office. We are looking forward to having her as part of the team,” says Steve Vavrus, the new state climatologist and director of the Wisconsin State Climatology Office.

The Wisconsin State Climatology Office provides data on the state’s climate and weather to stakeholders statewide. As part of the UW-Madison’s Rural Partnerships Initiative, the SCO recently received funds to revamp and expand support to rural and tribal communities. The SCO partners in this work with the Wisconsin Environmental Mesonet (Wisconet), directed by plant and agroecosystem and environmental studies professor Chris Kucharik.

Meeting Mason

Community Service
For Mason, sharing climate knowledge is a crucial community service. “There are so many tools, resources, and datasets that it can be really overwhelming to someone who doesn’t use these every day but wants to know more about weather and climate,” she says. “I consider myself very fortunate to be part of the climate services industry; I get to directly support stakeholders and communities with my knowledge and skills of weather and climate.

Being Brave
As the assistant state climatologist, Mason will travel the state to present at conferences and meetings, as well as speak to the press. While an important part of the gig, it requires her to step outside her comfort zone. “Public speaking still makes me incredibly nervous,” she says, “but a few wise family members reminded me not long ago, doing challenging things is good for you and being nervous means you care.”

Potato Warning
Like most kids, Mason was uneasy about storms. Even at three years old, “the slightest hint of bad weather” would have her on edge. “[I] could not say tornadoes,” she recalls, “so I would run around the house yelling, ‘The potatoes are coming!’ ” When she was about 13, her fear turned to curiosity, and instead of hiding, she started standing outside with her dad while the tornado sirens blared, watching the skies.