For nearly two decades, residents of Middle Tennessee have relied on Lisa Spencer’s weather report on News Channel 4 to plan their days and stay safe during severe weather. Spencer credits her success to many of the skills she learned during her time in 4-H.
“I truly believe that 4-H laid the groundwork for my career in radio and television,” explains Spencer. “The activities and contests that I participated in really gave me confidence and helped me develop the public speaking skills that got me where I am today.”
Spencer joined 4-H as a fourth grader and was largely inspired by her sister, who was also an active member of the Madison County 4-H program.
“I was very active in 4-H and there weren’t many things that I didn’t at least try,” says Spencer.
Fortunately for Spencer, 4-H allowed her to combine her love of animals and project work, and she frequently participated in the Dog Project with her beloved companion, Trixy, a stray that she took in as her own. Her success in showing allowed her to eventually work with younger members training their own dogs.
Spencer has been the recipient of numerous national honors and regional Emmys, but finds that the biggest joy in her career is being out in the community, a skill she learned in 4-H.
“The thing that I am most proud of is sharing my enthusiasm for weather with school children,” explains Spencer. “I speak to thousands of children each year about the weather and I love teaching them the science behind weather forecasting with experiments and making sure they are prepared for severe weather.”
Q&A with Lisa Spencer
Where did you grow up and what 4-H club were you part of?
I grew up in Jackson, Tennessee, and joined the 4-H Club when I was in the fourth grade at Beech Bluff Elementary School. I was following in my sister’s footsteps, who was very active in 4-H. She set the bar high and I wanted to be like her. Our interests were very different, so we were involved in different projects through the Jackson and Madison County 4-H Club.
What 4-H activities were you involved in?
I was very active in 4-H and there weren’t many things that I didn’t at least try. I was always participating in county competitions, but my big focus from the start was the Dog Project. I was all in with my furry companion, Trixy, who was a precious stray dog that I claimed as my own. He was a long-haired beauty that looked a little like a Sheltie. Throughout my time in 4-H, I learned to train him and, eventually, when I was in high school, I taught younger members how to train their dogs. I also participated in the Horse Project for several years with my horse, Lady, who was a Tennessee Walker.
4-H Camp was the highlight of my summer every year. I loved everything about it – from the campfire songs to swimming to arts and crafts. As I got older, I participated in the 4-H Honor Club and All-Stars. I also participated in leadership roles at many events, including the 4-H Communications Conference.
What was the biggest lesson you learned from your time in 4-H?
I truly believe that 4-H laid the groundwork for my career in radio and television. The activities and contests that I participated in really gave me confidence and helped me develop the public speaking skills that got me where I am today.
What is the thing you are most proud of in your career?
I am the Chief Meteorologist at WSMV News 4 in Nashville, and I love what I do! It’s my job to help our viewers be prepared for the next day’s weather and to keep them safe during severe storms. Although I have won regional Emmys and national honors, the thing that I am most proud of is sharing my enthusiasm for weather with school children. I speak to thousands of children each year about the weather and I love teaching them the science behind weather forecasting with experiments and making sure they are prepared for severe weather.
If you could give one piece of advice to a 4-H student, what would it be?
Just one? That’s hard! Here’s one – while you are on your journey to pursuing your dreams, remember that there will be some bumps in the roads, and you may even stumble, but keep going! Your dream is worth it.
How has 4-H impacted your life even after you graduated from the program?
I believe that 4-H laid the foundation for my success. I learned so many skills that I use every day to be a confident speaker, leader and teacher. On a side note, I am still a big animal lover and I have even found a way to incorporate my dogs into what I do every day through my Facebook Live weather reports on my back deck.
Where are some interesting places you’ve been or things you’ve done thanks to opportunities provided by 4-H?
When I was in 4-H, I had the opportunity to participate in an exchange program where 4-H’ers spent a week in another 4-H’ers home. My exchange trips took me to Nebraska and Texas, which were states that I had never visited at the time. I had the opportunity to stay on a ranch in Nebraska, which was a very different way of life than what I was accustomed to.