MVP for Iowa STEM: Beth Hochstedler

STEM Council member Beth Hochstedler works with a collegaue and students at new STEM BEST model
Beth Hochstedler (second from left), a member of the STEM Council, works with colleague Rick Bonar of the State Hygienic Laboratory (far right) and students at a new STEM BEST model located at the University of Iowa Research Park.

A strong advocate for education at both the state and national levels, Beth Hochstedler’s passion for Iowa STEM pre-dates her appointment to the STEM Council in 2013.

Hochstedler started her 26-year journey with the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa as an environmental scientist before making the transition to her current role as the program director for the laboratory’s Education Training and Outreach section. It was in this role that Hochstedler met Dr. Jeff Weld who invited her to serve on a committee to develop the Iowa STEM Education Roadmap in 2010.

The emergent partnership between the State Hygienic Laboratory and the Iowa Mathematics and Science Education Partnership, directed by Weld at that time, led to Iowa’s first family STEM festival hosted at the laboratory in Coralville in 2011 that drew in more than 2,000 people. Since then, the STEM festival concept has been officially adopted into the Iowa STEM Regional Network, inspiring more than two dozen festivals to take place across Iowa every year.

Hochstedler and the laboratory have also been significant partners with Iowa STEM Teacher Externships, hosting nine Teacher Externs since 2011 for six-week immersive professional development opportunities for teachers of STEM subjects.

“We find it to be an extremely beneficial program for Iowa,” Hochstedler said. “We get to partner with the teachers to extend the reach of how we can get public health and environmental laboratory science information to a large number of students.”

Since joining the STEM Council, Hochstedler has steadily contributed to a variety of initiatives, especially the Active Learning Community working group of late. Her close ties to Iowa STEM have allowed her and other staff of the Laboratory to partner with STEM Innovator, a STEM BEST model operating at the Kirkwood Regional Center.

Her contributions scale nationally as a member of the national workforce development committee of the Association of Public Health Laboratories where she showcases STEM Council on a much larger platform.

“I always hear, ‘Wow, you’re from Iowa? They are really one of the leaders in STEM,’ and it’s so great to be a part of that,” she said. “I recognize that we truly are stepping up in a leadership role for the nation in STEM and the future workforce, and it’s an important mission that I can clearly see from serving on the STEM Council.”

As this month’s MVP for Iowa STEM, we are grateful for Beth’s contributions as well as the devotion and commitment of all members of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.