Iowa STEM: An Open Letter to the Governor's STEM Advisory Council - Reflections of Progress and Our Future
July 1, 2013
Having recently been entrusted with a second year of funding by the Iowa legislature, we can
continue to build upon the great work of this Council. Please indulge me a few precious minutes to
share reflections on our progress, exciting horizons and your vital role as we move forward.
The demand for our scale-up programming has increased by over 200 percent from year one to year
two by measure of the number of children we’ll impact this coming year (over 100,000…about one
fifth of all K-12 youth in Iowa). A deeply rich assessment portfolio on first year effect will debut later this summer.
Tens of thousands of Iowans have participated in STEM festivals across the regional
network. Our core team of managers and their regional boards have united the forces throughout
their regions to amplify the volume and penetrance of STEM programming. Leveraging the state
appropriation, we have earned investments in our programs from federal and state grant agencies
and private sector partners. Iowa’s STEM infrastructure has earned us regional and national acclaim
exemplified by our hosting of the recent Midwest STEM forum, the naming of our Co-Chair Lt.
Governor Kim Reynolds as one of 100 Women Leaders in STEM by STEMconnector last year and that
same organization’s naming of our incoming co-chair Mary Vermeer Andringa as one of 100 CEO
Leaders in STEM just last week (along with five other Iowa CEOs – distantly outpacing any other
state’s contribution to the list on a per-capita basis*), and the first-and-only-one-of-its-kind grant
from the National Science Foundation to Iowa for developing an evaluative model of our STEM
initiative for sharing with other states. These are but a few of the gains we have made in the last year
upon which the Advisory Council can take pride. But let us not linger!
Horizons are sharpening on a number of tactical fronts prioritized by this Council. This summer a
public relations firm will be selected to trumpet Iowa’s STEM challenge and solutions, drumming up
vital community support. We will also be launching a statewide IT Academy through the issuance
of a call for bids from information technology firms. STEM Schools and Classrooms are now defined
as a model ready for competitive bids to bring the vision to fruition. STEM license/endorsement is
an early promise soon to be a reality in cooperation with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.
The urgency for internet broadband access for all Iowa school children has been championed by
a committee of this Council, with action imminent. We will shortly unveil a business partnership
“manual” to catalyze regional public-private STEM engagements. And soon, a committee will deliver
to the Council a model for STEM professional development, coinciding nicely with the arrival of the
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which will help us to identify and grow the best teacher
training known. These and more undertakings are only possible thanks to the kinetic push of talented
taskforces peopled by members of this Council and other volunteers.
All this leads to your role on the Council. Many members of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council give
selflessly to a committee, taskforce or innovation team. New subcommittees are being formed
around needs such as budget oversight, vendor interfacing, IT Academy selection, website redesign,
public messaging and more. If you are willing and interested in serving on one of these groups,
please let me know. Communication of our efforts is also a function we hope you will execute within
and beyond your professional sphere. Both output (OpEds, speaking engagements, social media)
and intake (tips and advice to our leadership) are most welcome. And of course we rely on the
remarkable leaders who comprise the Governor's STEM Advisory Council to continue to connect and
interweave qualitySTEM programming through your institution, business or organization with
Council programs and structures. Finally, we count on the Council for vision moving forward.
You may have noticed that our biannual meetings are thematic: Spring meeting is a state STEM
conference showcasing the great work of the Council (attendees to the snowy March 5 event
will recognize the trend) and the fall meeting (upcoming August 15) has become an intimate work
session for Council and close allies (last November at Drake University, you may recall). Please come
to the August meeting prepared to reflect a bit on distances we have traversed but more importantly
the horizons we need to ascend.
It is with great appreciation that we bid fond farewell to co-chair Ben Allen on June 30. With equally
great appreciation we welcome co-chair Mary Andringa on July 1. The table is set for a wonderful
Year 2 of programming, regional connectivity and strategic planning around STEM revitalization
Past and future accomplishments of this body are a credit to our co-chairs, the executive committee,
regional managers and their boards and Hub institutions, our grant writers, our partner the
Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, our scale-up service providers, the central
administration team at UNI, education and business leaders across the state, committee volunteers
from beyond Council, the many unsung heroes in support roles at our institutions and at the Capitol,
and, of course, the Iowa Legislature and our Governor.
Your STEM servant,
*Iowa-based 100 CEO Leaders in STEM: John Deere's Sam Allen, Vermeer's Mary Andringa, Albaugh, Inc.'s
Dennis Albaugh, Rockwell Collins' Clay Jones, Kemin Industries' Chris Nelson and Stine Seeds' Harry Stine