Executive branch leaders and state legislators took more than a moment on February 16 to pause from the weighty matters upstairs in the Senate and House chambers to celebrate something they created and continue to generously support—Iowa’s statewide STEM program. Reaching now more than half of all preK-12 learners and earning the support of more than 90% of surveyed citizens, this evidence-based, public-private partnership enjoys bipartisan, data-driven commitment of lawmakers.
Thirty-three partnering organizations and a sea of more than 160 exhibitor participants helped share Iowa’s STEM story with dozens of lawmakers and other supporters over the course of the day, sponsored by loyal partners to the STEM Council, John Deere and Rockwell Collins.
STEM Day at the Capitol began with evaluative snapshots from Executive Director Dr. Jeff Weld. He introduced Gov. Terry Branstad who acknowledged the progress made by this group since his executive order 74 in 2011. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds followed, thanking exhibitors for their tireless work on behalf of children, many of whom made the trek and earned her warm well-wishes for bright STEM futures. In a uniquely STEM-like fashion of bipartisanship, Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, Sen. Bill Dotzler, Rep. Cecil Dolecheck and Rep. Dave Jacoby each shared their own observations of Iowa’s STEM progress in earning their support as key in producing Iowa’s next generation of skilled innovators.
STEM Council Co-Chair and Kemin Industries President and CEO Dr. Chris Nelson rallied attendees around what has become a signature program of the STEM Council, recognizing six outstanding Iowa educators, one per STEM region, who earned the 2017 I.O.W.A. STEM Teacher Award, generously sponsored by his company. All leaders remained at the podium to congratulate the six honored teachers, including:
- Heather Anderson, second grade teacher at Grant Ragan Elementary School in Waukee, Iowa
- Benjamin Jass, industrial technology teacher at Webster City High School in Webster City, Iowa
- Keith Juelfs, fifth grade teacher at Morningside Elementary STEM School in Sioux City, Iowa
- Brett Roberts, sixth grade science teacher at Shenandoah Middle School in Shenandoah, Iowa
- Chelsie Slaba, science teacher at Dike-New Hartford High School in Dike, Iowa
- Gregory Smith, industrial technology teacher at Davenport West High School in Davenport, Iowa
Throughout the rest of the day, exhibitors networked with legislators and other exhibiting partners in what has become something of a STEM family reunion. Students, parents, educators, business leaders, nonprofit organizations and others from communities across Iowa, including Carlisle, Cedar Falls, Charles City, Davenport, Des Moines, Estherville, Iowa City, Knoxville, Pierson, Rock Valley and more, helped Iowa STEM represent important partnerships from the STEM Scale-Up Program to the Iowa STEM BEST® Network and the Regional Hub Institutions to Corporate Partners.
Take a look at the day’s happenings by searching #IowaSTEM on Twitter and Instagram and by visiting our Facebook photo album. Don’t forget to hit the follow button @IowaSTEM.