SPRING HILL — Bay News 9 meteorologist Josh Linker's favorite bird is the ostrich.
Suncoast Elementary School students and teachers learned that and a whole lot more when Linker visited the school to chat with students about weather and himself.
He talked with eight fifth-grade classes during three sessions. That grade level studies weather and fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Soccorso and her class brought in Linker to help them understand forecasting.
She wanted them to meet and talk with a real meteorologist, she said, "To show that he's a real person and how he got to be a meteorologist." The students had been assigned to watch Linker for homework. Bay News 9 has weather-related activities for schools, she explained.
Linker, 35, said he tries to visit schools about twice a month. "I try to talk to them as often as I can."
Linker spent most of each session going back and forth with students, telling them about weather-related things and letting them get to know him. The questions started coming:
"Do you ever get complaints from viewers?"
"Yeah, we get people upset," he said. But when he gets something wrong, he said he researches it so it is less likely to happen again. He reads and responds to all his e-mails, even less-than-kind ones.
"Do you cry?"
"No. Not from e-mails."
"How long have you been a meteorologist?"
"I've been a meteorologist for just over 11 years," he said.
"What's your favorite storm you ever tracked?"
Linker didn't want to say he had a favorite storm, but he felt challenged by Hurricane Jeanne and Tropical Storm Fay, because they were difficult to track.
"Do your kids like your job?"
"My kids don't sit at home and watch me," he said. "They watch SpongeBob."
"Do you ever get embarrassed on TV?"
"Not on a regular basis."
The students were not content to keep the conversation centered on the weather and television. They asked anything you ever wanted to know about Josh Linker.
"What's your favorite food and sport?"
"I like sushi. I could eat sushi every day. I play soccer, but I like football."
"Have you ever been fishing?"
"I have been." Linker is not a regular fisherman.
"Do you have a favorite book?"
"That's a good one," he said. "I like reading Stephen King. He writes horror stories."
Linker's favorite color is blue, his favorite state is "denial" and New York, Florida and Colorado, he once worked at restaurant docking boats, his favorite television show is Heroes, and his favorites movies are Carrie and Pet Sematary.
After his session, Ryan Barraclough, 10, said he learned "that he (Linker) has three children. That's he's very nice. Some aren't, trust me. Some are mean when you ask questions, but not him. He's nice." Ryan said he likes to watch the weather, especially since his family travels a lot and they need to know about it.
Mark Kowalski, 10, said, "The most interesting thing I learned from him is he actually had an accident dropping the clicker (while on the air), but he never had coffee spilled on him." Mark learned that Linker's favorite car is the Corvette.
Miranda Coddington, 10, said, "I learned he's from Long Island. I also learned that his birthday is June 1 and he's always on every 10 minutes. He likes to go (snow) skiing." Concerning weather she said, "He likes blizzards."