Iowa’s Indispensable Regional STEM Advisory Boards

Regional STEM Advisory Board meeting
Making the dreams of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council come to life is the expanding role of Regional STEM Advisory Boards, such as the Southeast Regional STEM Advisory Board meeting at Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa recently.

Originally designed by a taskforce of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council in 2012 as means for coordination and communication, Iowa’s six Regional STEM Advisory Boards have evolved to do so much more.

Ninety passionate STEM advocates, fifteen in each region, convene at least bi-monthly to guide the activities of the Regional STEM Manager. Around the table sit representatives of business, AEAs, community colleges, Extension, four-year colleges, libraries, informal learning, economic and workforce development, parents, elected officials, teachers and regional STEM Hub institutions. Progressing beyond voicing STEM to their subgroups, which they do so well, Regional Advisory Board members increasingly take on programmatic roles helping out with Family STEM Festivals and events, aiding the Regional STEM Manager with connections and performance reviews and, vitally, reviewing stacks of annual applications for STEM Scale-Up Programs, for I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Awards, for STEM BEST Program models and for providing feedback to the STEM Council operations team for future directioning. 

Dr. Alan Ladd, Regional Extension Education Director for Region 17 and a Southwest Regional STEM Board member since inception, devotes sometimes hours per month to the task. He volunteers, like so many, as a means of giving back, helping youth to become excited about STEM and the STEM careers that lie ahead. The contributions that Alan believes Regional STEM Board members provide include connecting the Regional STEM Manager to local organizations and leaders, advocating for STEM to constituents, overseeing responsible use of funds and doing all they can to maximize impact. Alan feels it is the responsibility of Regional STEM Board members to avoid complacency through regular attendance at meetings and by also taking in events such as school programs and community STEM festivals. Iowans and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council owe a debt of gratitude to Alan and all of the Regional STEM Board members for their devotion. Iowa’s Regional STEM Advisory Boards, bringing Council dreams to realities since 2012.