This year with the winter weather and frustrations we experienced, we only thought it appropriate to ask alumnus Kyle Varnold back to speak at our graduation.
Kyle was born in the Summer of 1982 and hails from the former Potawatomi village of Maquon. The son of Rick & Pat Varnold, Kyle has an avid love of “all things Weather” since he spotted his first funnel cloud at the age of five, growing up on his family farm. A WGN AM-720 Weather Watcher at age 13 and self-described “geek” all throughout his time at Valley High, Kyle also played Football (poorly) and Basketball (bench team) for the “then” Valley Vikings his JV years and was on the award-winning Speech Team and Scholastic Bowl all four years of High School as well as Co-Captain his Senior Year. Thanks to Speech Team, Kyle revealed his secret passion and upbringing on Musical Theatre and Mr. Knox, Ms. Helle & Mr. Baxter took full advantage of those (non-weather related) hidden talents. When not attending school, Kyle worked as a Weather Graphics Technician at WEEK-TV in East Peoria, and still holds the distinction of being the youngest person ever to be employed at WEEK at the age of 16. Kyle graduated from Spoon River Valley High School on May 26th, 2000.
Kyle then attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb to pursue his interest in Meteorology. Kyle became very involved with the MET program at Northern and worked closely with Dr. David Changnon and Dr. Charles Bentley in the expansion and development of the Weather segments at the university based, NTC News under the direction of Dr. Allen May. Kyle interned at the National Weather Service Central Illinois office in Lincoln, IL during the Summer of 2002. That fall, Kyle became Weather Director at NTC News and was immediately singled out by his prefessors and recognized for his “Witty, Weather Reports” as well as ILLINOIS BROADCASTER (STUDENT) ASSOCIATION award winning local news reports, which Kyle received the NIU REPORTER OF THE YEAR award one year later for his excellence in Broadcast Journalism. Kyle graduated from Northern on May 10th, 2004 with his B.S. in Meteorological Sciences with an emphasis in Vortex development and a minor in Broadcast Journalism.
After that, Kyle volunteered his time at the NWS-Lincoln office with the hopes that a salaried position would become available. Kyle was actively involved assisting with Spotter Training Classes and was Field Commander for the NWS Lincoln Storm Spotting Team. Kyle worked as a “Schwanman” from 2006 to 2011 and built sales routes for the Company, and received the prestigious Chairman’s Club Award for being one of the top 1% of Sales Managers in the company. After discovering a “knack” for sales and a desire for a non 14-hour/day job, Kyle entered the world on Insurance in the Spring of 2011 working at State Farm Insurance in Bloomington. Kyle started in Internal Sales Support and later Agency Internship, based in a Peoria Agent’s Office. In 2014, Kyle moved over to the independent agency world when he signed with Peoria-based, FORTNER INSURANCE as their Life & Health Agent/Specialist. “I don’t Love Insurance and any person that does is clearly not right in the head, but I do love helping people and providing peace of mind and Insurance is just that.” Kyle has since been awarded the PEKIN SILVER KEY award for excellence in Life & Health Sales and is a top 1% Agent with United Healthcare.
When not matching clients with appropriate coverage, Kyle still finds time for his true passion, weather through his locally loved and recognized “Weather Reports” he posts on FB to his “Weather Wisdom” classes he gives to local area schools. Kyle also can be seen on the stage at Peoria Players Theatre in local productions, most recently “Les Miserables”. Kyle currently resides with his beautiful bride, Kendra and their son, Kellan in Washington, IL.