John Deere Inspire’s Pat Barnes has also inspired the STEM Council from day one through the development of the initiative to its widespread success throughout Iowa.
Before becoming an original member of the STEM Council, Barnes started his career 34 years ago as an electrical engineer at John Deere. Throughout his experience, he realized the importance of volunteerism and mentoring students toward STEM opportunities, which is why Barnes worked alongside his colleagues to help guide John Deere to a new company strategy on STEM education.
Right around the birth of the STEM Council, John Deere launched “John Deere Inspire," which, now under the leadership of Barnes, is serving 16 communities and more than 20,000 students. His role with John Deere Inspire aligns directly with STEM Council goals, which allowed him the opportunity to contribute to the “Iowa STEM Education Roadmap” that helped guide the STEM Council to existence.
Yet, helping breathe life into the Iowa STEM movement is not Barnes’ only contribution. As an original and newly-reappointed member of the STEM Council and the Southeast Regional STEM Advisory Board, his involvements began with committees to help establish the Regional STEM Network, to review dozens of Scale-Up program provider applications for menu approval and to select the new STEM BEST programs. Barnes has recruited multiple, fellow John Deere employees to serve on other committees to benefit both his company and Iowa STEM.
“John Deere has a huge presence in Iowa with John Deere’s largest workforce in five different communities across the state,” Barnes said. “From a John Deere perspective, we get the opportunity to explain why STEM is important to us and should be important to others in Iowa—regardless of big company or small company. The networking and connecting with others of the STEM Council has allowed us to have a bigger impact directly in terms of Iowa STEM.”
The company has dedicated thousands of dollars through the John Deere Foundation for five summers to host 31 Teacher Externs with the STEM Council’s Teacher Externships program.
“Teacher Externships are one of the best ways to engage teachers and show them the real-world aspects of STEM,” Barnes said. “There’s no better way than actually working on a project at our facilities or at another company to see how STEM is actually practiced beyond the classroom.”
At a national level, Barnes said John Deere supports FIRST Robotics financially and through mentorships and supplies additional funding for three Scale-Up programs, Project Lead The Way: Gateway to Technology, A World in Motion and ST Math, for schools in Iowa.
“Today, nearly everyone needs to have strong STEM skills and be STEM-literate,” he said. “It’s important for all students, regardless of their career choice, to have those experiences that help them gain 21st century skills. The way to make this happen is to use your employees in your business to have a positive impact on students—the future workforce in your business and the state. Every hour you help a student or a teacher is just as valuable of an hour regardless of company size. The STEM Council is a great way to start and get engaged to see the positive impact of what you’re doing.”
Iowa’s STEM Council has made great strides thanks to members like Pat Barnes of John Deere. Thank you Pat!
For more information on the STEM Council, visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/Council.