Regional STEM advisory boards help advance STEM locally

Northeast Regional STEM Advisory Board at South Winneshiek Community School District
The Northeast Iowa Regional STEM Advisory board [pictured above] visited South Winneshiek Community School District as part of its meeting before diving into an agenda and action items.

Of the thousands of Iowans who power STEM throughout the state, a core cadre of nearly 150 people keep the wheels of progress turning. That group of 90 Regional STEM Advisory Board members and 47 members of the STEM Council is all appointed by Governor Branstad, all volunteers and all coordinated by one of six regional STEM managers as well as the STEM Council’s operations center at UNI.

Together, these two levels of volunteers help steer the Iowa STEM movement in the right direction. While the STEM Council creates the plan at the state level guided by the co-chairs, the Regional STEM Advisory Boards, served by their regional STEM manager, execute the plan at the local level and ensure that the effects reach every corner of Iowa. To do that, each board includes a representative from an AEA, a school board, K-12 education, higher education, economic and workforce development, local government, business and industry, a library, extension and outreach, informal education and nonprofit.

Each board meets monthly or bi-monthly to discuss regional budgets, select recipients for awards, like STEM BEST or the STEM Scale-Up Program and, most importantly, act as the “voice” to spread the Iowa STEM message to each member’s constituency across the region.

Many regional board members go above and beyond in service to STEM. For example Mary Trent, chair of the Northwest Regional STEM Advisory Board, has advocated for STEM in a special way, helping develop an online platform (coming soon!) for STEM Scale-Up Program educators to share resources and ideas across the state.

“The STEM Council has shown me that I can contribute to the STEM movement by sharing my ideas on professional development, online communities and STEM implementation in schools,” said Trent, also technology integration specialist at Kuemper Catholic School in Carroll. “It's like a flame has been lit inside of me and STEM has become my passion in education.”

For more information on the Regional STEM Advisory Boards, visit http://www.IowaSTEM.gov/regions. For details on member appointment terms and to apply, visit https://openup.iowa.gov/home and search “STEM.”