Craig Johnson, executive director of the Iowa Academy of Science, first gained a passion for inspiring students while working as a professional meteorologist and making presentations at Iowa schools. When he realized that many students felt they were not “smart enough” for STEM, he knew he needed to get more involved.
“The work of the STEM Council fosters an environment where students realize that STEM careers are attainable,” Johnson said. “I wanted to be part of sharing the benefits of STEM to Iowa students.”
Now, five years later as this month’s MVP for Iowa STEM, Johnson has played a major part in helping Iowa STEM serve hundreds of thousands of students. Among early work on committees to design the STEM Scale-Up Program and form public-private partnerships, Johnson says his favorite role on the STEM Council is pairing his non-profit expertise with the STEM Active Learning Community Partners working group.
“This group works to bring museums, science centers and other non-profits together for professional development and to form partnerships for the benefit of STEM education in Iowa,” Johnson said. “Providing common connections for members of the STEM community helps reach children and adults in environments outside of school and in ways not provided by formal education.”
Johnson says his involvement has aligned his work with others for future activities provided by the Iowa Academy of Science, but mostly, his role in Iowa STEM has shaped his message for students everywhere:
“STEM touches everyone. All of the comforts we enjoy, our ability to quickly travel great distances, medical advances, how we communicate and a whole host of other benefits come directly from STEM,” Johnson said. “Even if I did not choose a STEM field as a career, chances are that a career I do choose would be a beneficiary of STEM advancements. Give STEM a chance. You might find something you never heard of that gets you up ahead of the alarm every day.”
Thank you Craig Johnson and all of the 47 members of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council for sharing your passion and commitment.