Chief Meteorologist Elaina Rusk Combines Passion for Journalism and Weather in Professional and Volunteer Roles

By Lindsey Brackett, KEDF/KEDC Intern

Elaina Rusk, chief meteorologist at Channel 23 KERO, finds joy in her career which combines her first love, communications, with her more recently developed skills in meteorology and science. Elaina is also extremely passionate about introducing young students to fields of STEM and making an impact in the community.

Growing up in Roseville, California, just outside of Sacramento, Elaina lived in a loud and busy household with her parents and two older brothers. She and her brothers were always involved in sports, and even though her parents worked full time, their children were always top priority.

Since kindergarten, Elaina has known she wanted to be a television journalist.  “I have always loved storytelling and investigative journalism, and I love the creativity you can have when using audio and video to tell a story,” she says.  After high school, and with her passion for writing, Elaina earned her Bachelors in Journalism (with a concentration in News Editorial) and a minor in Psychology at California State University, Chico.  Starting her career, Elaina relocated to Yakima, WA where she was a producer for Channel 23 KNDO as well as a reporter on a few stories here and there.  After KNDO was unfortunately shut down, Elaina found herself in Lawton, OK where she was a reporter and fill-in anchor for Channel 7 KSWO before heading back to California.

After being on the go and moving from state to state, the desire to be closer to home and her family brought Elaina to Kern County in 2008.  It was also at this time that she married, then started a family.  Elaina accepted a position at 23 KERO as a reporter and news anchor but it wasn’t long until the position of Chief Meteorologist became available.  Elaina had no background in science or meteorology but her father had always been very intrigued with weather when she was young, tracking storms and taking pictures of the clouds and sky.  Elaina decided to build upon her early interests inspired by her father and take Broadcast Meteorology classes online at Mississippi State, which allowed her to balance work and family while living here in Kern County. Armed with a meteorology degree, as well as her vibrant personality, Elaina has achieved her goal in becoming KERO’s chief meteorologist.

In September, Elaina will celebrate her 10th anniversary of living in Kern County and her community involvement is a great indication of her commitment to the area.  She is a volunteer with the Junior League of Bakersfield, is a reader for the Kern County Community Reading Project and she loves going to the Hot Rod Reunion with her brother when he visits.

Elaina is passionate about introducing students to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and thinks it is especially important to introduce these programs to young girls. “It’s assumed that boys are interested in science and business, while girls are interested in arts,” she said. Elaina, however, is working proof that this is not the case.  Elaina is active with the Kern County Science Foundation to help promote STEM and thinks it’s important to introduce young girls to STEM fields at a young age because you may be able to “show them something they may have shied away from.”

Since being in Kern County, Elaina has built strong connections and a love for the community.  She says that her least favorite part of her job is waking up early in order to come in the studio to prep the weather forecast for the 4:30 a.m. news. Nonetheless, the perks definitely outweigh the early mornings.  “I love this job…everything about it,” Elaina says.  “This company at this station in this town is just amazing and I feel very lucky that my bosses took a chance on me. My goal is for people to watch me and think ‘What does this mean for my town and my family?’ and to ultimately make a difference in the community by getting people interested in science.”  Catch Elaina on Channel 23ABC KERO from 4:30 a.m.- 7:00 a.m. and at 11:00 a.m. every weekday!

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