Harry Hillaker , Iowa’s state climatologist for the past three decades, is stepping down this week.
“March 22 will be my last day in the office and basically it’s been, gosh, almost 37 years I’ve been working in this office,” Hillaker said. The state climatologist monitors weather activity to compile monthly and annual reports about precipitation totals, shifts in temperatures, and other climate-related data. Iowa’s only other state climatologist, Paul Waite, hired Hillaker.
“He hired me to do a little, three-month long research grant,” Hillaker said. “It’s almost 37 years later and I’m still here. That research grant led to one thing and then another, and then another, and I’ve been here all that time.” Waite was Iowa’s state climatologist from 1976 to 1988, when Hillaker took the job. Hillaker plans to do some traveling, but will keep Iowa as his home in retirement. He’s looking forward to digging deeper into the state’s historical weather data.
“There is still a lot of work to be done with that,” Hillaker said. “There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to do that I never had time to do with the regular job, so I’m hoping to do some of that with retirement.” The state climatologist’s office is part of the Iowa Department of Agriculture.