STEM Council Meeting XIII focuses on how to sustain Iowa STEM foundation

103 Iowa STEM advocates attend the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council
A total of 103 Iowa STEM advocates from across the state packed the room at Lennox Industries in Marshalltown as the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council convened earlier this month.

Two heads are better than one—or rather in this instance—103 heads. The STEM Council convened for the 13th meeting alongside invited regional STEM advisory board members and other stakeholders to develop new ideas on advancing and sustaining the state’s STEM effort.

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council, set the stage for the day by arriving early to address a gathering of regional STEM advisory board members who had assembled to compare notes and strategies.

“We’ve received national recognition,” Lt. Gov. Reynolds said. “Other states are looking at what we’re doing here in Iowa and trying to emulate it. I think the back-bone of that success started in 2011 with the Regional [STEM] Network system.”

A way to measure that success comes from an independent evaluation produced by an inter-university consortium of Iowa’s three public universities. This group of evaluators opened the STEM Council meeting by breaking down the 2014-2015 Iowa STEM Evaluation report released last month and unveiling the Iowa STEM Professional Network Analysis that shows the growth of professional connections from 2007 to 2015 supporting the state’s STEM effort.

Three of the STEM Council’s work groups provided updates before the STEM Council heard Doug Hoelscher, the state’s director of federal relations, provide an overview of the National Governors Association Talent Pipeline to Workforce Policy Academy. Jeremy Varner, administrator of the division of community colleges with the Iowa Department of Education, also introduced the group to the overlapping work of the Secondary Career and Technical Education Task Force.

With the meeting in Marshalltown, the near-center of Iowa and also the center of large community support for STEM, local school leaders and a sampling of students led a panel to talk about their personal success with STEM Scale-Up programs and activities. All students agreed they want more STEM and school leaders continue to strive towards ensuring equity and access to the programs for their wonderfully diverse population.

That was one of the topics a panel of executive committee members of the STEM Council touched upon during an open conversation with attendees about how to sustain and grow Iowa’s STEM foundation. The panel was unanimous that more communication and coordination across agencies is crucial to its success, and some panelists highly recommended proactively sharing highlights and successes with observers within and beyond state boundaries.

Panelist Rob Denson, Des Moines Area Community College president, may have summed up how to get more Iowa STEM support, “You excite the kids, who excite the parents, who excite the businesses, who excite the legislators to make a change. [Students] are the base we need to address.”

For meeting minutes and documents, please visit http://iowastem.gov/archive.

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