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Voices of ACES Blog

Meteorologist Jacob Dickey, a non-traditional teacher

Jacob Dickey smiles in the WCIA 3 News studio.

Gibson City native, WCIA meteorologist and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign alum Jacob Dickey is bringing to life his childhood dreams and using his public platform to share more than just weather.  

For Jacob, watching the sky was something that started at an early age.  From two years old, he was fixated on the Weather Channel and often kept an eye on the sky.  And when storms rolled around, Jacob knew what some of those first warning signs were of impending severe weather.  At just six years old, he convinced his parents to drive to the edge of town when the outdoor warning sirens blared.  By ten, Jacob made his first TV appearance as a WCIA Kidcaster, a program that brings area youth to the studio to do a weather forecast on TV.  

Even then, young Jacob was sure of his future: “I have always dreamed of being a weatherman, and hope my dream will someday come true.”  After he had done his forecast, he left an impression on the station that day, leaving Robert Reese, Matt Metcalf, and Gabrielle Martin chuckling about how they might have just found a future employee.  

As he grew up and started high school, Jacob was a weather watcher for Judy Fraser and Derick Fabert, but he also took advantage of additional opportunities to broaden his horizons. His dreams of working in meteorology were temporarily set aside when he put on his first blue corduroy FFA jacket. Jacob served his FFA chapter diligently, holding the positions of reporter, vice president, and president. 

As a freshman in college, he served as the Section 17 President and as the District IV Director. Jacob competed in just about any competition he could get his hands on; his favorites were parliamentary procedure and prepared public speaking, where he earned second place in the state during his senior year.  It was his experience in FFA that led Jacob to think he could be an Ag Teacher by day and a meteorologist by night.

Living in the Champaign-Urbana area, Jacob’s college decision came naturally: He enrolled in the Parkland Pathways program at the U. of I., where he studied agriculture education in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences.  He was active in several clubs and organizations and helped to represent the College of ACES around the state and even the country.  He also continued his experience with FFA as a conference facilitator for the 212/360 programs and the Washington Leadership Conference.  

By Jacob’s senior year, he added student teaching to his resume, heading to the small town of Orion, Illinois, to teach 7 different courses and lead two online sections. He also pushed students to section, district, and even state competitions in numerous Supervised Agricultural Experiences and Career Development Events.

In 2015, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education from the College of ACES, with all the requirements and experience to commence his teaching career. But still, the early calling for weather continued to ring in the back of Jacob’s mind.  After an internship at WCIA 3 News in the Fall of 2015 and seeing several tornadoes while living in Oklahoma in the Spring of 2016, Jacob knew he couldn’t stop his passion for weather.

Jacob then enrolled at Mississippi State University to complete his Master’s in Professional Meteorology.  While there, Jacob interned with James Spann, a legendary Alabama meteorologist from ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, and began his first job at WCBI-tv in Columbus, Mississippi.  He experienced several significant hurricanes, numerous major tornado outbreaks, and more in his four years in the South.

As COVID impacted the world, Jacob picked up and moved to southwest Oklahoma while finishing his Master’s Thesis and degree online and took a job at KSWO 7 News.  Jacob thought it was a career opportunity of a lifetime.  But then, WCIA called with another opportunity, one Jacob couldn’t pass up.

Since moving back to his hometown weather station, WCIA, Jacob has shown his charismatic, energetic personality on television and built a large following online. “Meteorologist Jacob Dickey” has a strong public platform on Facebook, Instagram, and X, with nearly 100,000 followers among the three of them.

On social media and beyond, Jacob demonstrates how much he values adventure and diversification in his personal and professional life, sharing that “having more than one passion is so important to having a balanced life and a bright future.” 

He has also become ingrained in the community, working hard to connect businesses, organizations, and civic groups to the needs of our community. 

Jacob demonstrates his dedication to four areas of interest in his work: weather, agriculture, food, and education. 


Jacob’s work as a meteorologist is elevated through the emphasis he puts on public engagement. He implements a weekly segment called “Ask Your Meteorologist,” where community members can send in questions regarding this week's weather forecast or events.  

He also is active in ramping up the digital presence at the station and forecasts daily, even on the weekends.  In addition, his trips during severe weather in the WCIA 3 StormTracker are often widely talked about, with Jacob following and reporting from some of the more notable and significant storms in the last several years from the field, including the Derecho in June of 2023, and a pair of tornado outbreaks in December 2021 and January 2023. 


Jacob is a passionate agricultural advocate and finds creative and frequent ways to promote agriculture using his public platform: “When we get a news story at WCIA about agriculture, I am the go-to guy,” he said. Every week, he produces a segment connecting agriculture education in the community called  “Ag in the Classroom,” featuring lessons from the Champaign County Farm Bureau program, an organization for which he frequently volunteers.  He has also showcased the Farm Progress Show and participated in many other agricultural groups and organizations in the area.


He shares his unique cooking skills in his weekly segment, “Cooking Up a Storm,” featuring new dishes each week. In public, Jacob said that he is often stopped and asked questions not about the weather but about the next dish he is cooking up! Jacob and his wife, Amy, travel across the world to Denmark, France, Ireland, and Norway to sample native cuisine. Locally, they give small-town restaurants a chance to share more about what they make in their communities.  Jacob features some of the best local spots to eat at on social media and television in a segment called “On the Road with Jacob.” 


Although Jacob’s career took him to a newsroom rather than a classroom, he continues to utilize his passion for education to be what he calls a “non-traditional teacher.” From teaching the public about the weather to showing them how to cook their favorite dish just right, Jacob uses his background in agricultural education to teach the public about the things he is passionate about. “I’m still an educator, and I still use the same principles I learned while preparing to be a teacher.  I’m just teaching different content in a different way.”  In addition, he has recently taken on a teaching role, leading an “Introduction to Weather” course at Parkland College. 

Each day is something new for Jacob, and he couldn’t ask for a lifestyle that suits him better. “It’s chaotic, everything I do, but I really love it.” His magic on air, in the classroom, out in the community, and in the kitchen not only feeds his passions but also has a tremendous positive impact on all those he reaches. 

If you know a restaurant Jacob should try, want to share a cool weather photo or anything else, you can connect with Jacob via email at  Connect with Jacob and introduce yourself on social media, including on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.