COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — NBC4 Meteorologist Ben Gelber was presented Wednesday with the National Weather Service 25-Year Cooperative Weather Observer Award.

This important recognition celebrates Gelber’s remarkable dedication to collecting and reporting weather data. As a cooperative observer, his contributions have given users access to important weather and climate information for more than a quarter of a century. There are currently 176 active weather sites in the Buckeye State.

A letter from the NWS signed by Chris Stachelski, the regional observation program leader, congratulating Gelber states:

“On behalf of the National Weather Service’s Eastern Region Headquarters climate and observing program, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you for completing over 25 years of outstanding weather observations for Columbus, Ohio at the WCMH studios.

“Your dedicated support to the National Weather Service’s climate and cooperative observer program over the years has gone way beyond Columbus to also helping oversee a cooperative observing site in and near Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Additionally, your work researching Pennsylvania climate and publishing a book on it speaks volumes to helping to build awareness and educate many on the local climates across the country!

“Thank you for your work over in Columbus over the last 25 years! It has been a pleasure to correspond with you in the past over your dedicated services in the cooperative weather program and on climate records. Your support of the weather station at WCMH plays a critical role in understanding and tracking our nation’s climate. It could not be done without the many dedicated people across the country like yourself!”

The Emmy-award-winning meteorologist was designated as a COOP observer for the NWS in Columbus in 1996, with the installation of an 8-inch rain gauge and temperature shelter at NBC4. However, Gelber shared that his passion for monitoring and recording weather dates much farther back in his life.

“I built my first backyard weather station in junior high school (1970), beginning a continuous dataset of observations, with the help of my parents, that is now part of the national archived climatological records (NOAA),” said Gelber. “The data collected include high and low temperatures, daily rain and snowfall, snow depth, and additional notes on unusual weather phenomena.”

Gelber’s work as a COOP observer is completely voluntary and serves as an integral part of the NWS’s efforts in establishing and maintaining the nation’s climatic database. The volunteer network, which began in the 1800s in the U.S., helps the organization calculate average weather conditions and historical extremes. The volunteers’ day-to-day notations assist in researching climatic change in temperature, precipitation, snowfall and the growing season.

Additionally, Gelber’s volunteer service extends beyond his work as COOP observer and includes events such as the annual Spring Storm Spotter Training sessions at The Ohio State University Fawcett Center, which is done in concert with the NWS, Franklin County Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security. He also teaches meteorology at Ohio State.