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Science Iowa minutes

March 13, 2023

3 p.m.


Call to order


Present: president Chibnall, treasurer Ruth Henderson, secretary Tom O’Donnell, member Joe Coulter, public health professor emeritus, University of Iowa.


Approve the minutes of the February 5, 2023, meeting. See:


Ruth moves approval. Dan seconds. Unanimously approved.


Treasurer’s report – Ruth Henderson



Balances: Savings $120; business checking $1,824.13. No activity since the last statement. Ruth has filed the required reports with both the Iowa Secretary of State and the IRS.


Old business:


Report on Environmental Lobby Day – Ruth Henderson

Ruth’s notes:

She talked to new organizations invited several to the Science Festival Trail. She’s awaiting replies. It was worthwhile. She distributed STEM packs from the Central Iowa STEM Hub.


Upcoming events – Ruth Henderson 

April 1: Indianola Sustainability Fair. We’re registered. We can’t sell or distribute anything. She will take STEM Hub packets.

April 7-8: Darwin Day. Dan contacted the organizers, Maurine and Laurie. There are opportunities to have a table on Friday evening and Saturday. Ruth is interested in coming but doesn’t want to drive home late on Friday. She and Dan will most likely staff the event on Saturday only. Dan will follow up with Maurine and Laurie. 


2023 Science Festival Trail – Ruth Henderson 


Nathan was unavailable to report on his contact with the Valley High Orchestra teacher. Ruth will contact Julie Meachen about collaborating with DMU on publicity.

We’re getting a fair amount of response, with several registered, including some new organizations. We have three robotics confirmed and two interested. 

Dan has contacted Jolie at the science center. Awaiting a response.

We must get event insurance a week or a month in advance. 

Dan contacted his STEM Hub contacts about piggybacking onto their appearances around the area. They said whenever they’re having an event in central Iowa we can tag along with a table or flyers. We must just give them a heads up. Their activity slows down when school ends. It appears the next event is April 5 at Graceland University in Lamoni. It’s probably the last event on their calendar before summer. We could send flyers for distribution.

Ruth will reply to the registered organizations and ask them to put the festival on their publications and calendars. The Iowa Environmental Council agreed to put it on their calendar and emails.

Tom scanned local television station schedules for local shows that may be interested in publicizing the event. He’s forwarded that to Kate Garner, who will help with publicity. They’ve developed a release. She had some advice on getting a corporate or media sponsor.

Dan checked with the Varsity Theater, where he has a science movie project, about how they promote things. They rely on their website and social media unless it’s a big event that has an added element like a reception. Then they’ll try to get the Des Moines Register, Axios Des Moines and Iowa Public Radio interested. They may advertise on public radio.

Axios could be a good spot for us. 

Dan suggested pitching the festival to one of the IPR talk programs like Talk of Iowa or River to River. Tom will pitch it to them. 

Dan checked on Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and which of their grants may fit with what we do. He sent a general contact. They have a subdivision for public understanding and another for special initiatives. He sent a brief description of what we do and asked what grants may work for us. Tom noted that we should tailor the program to proposed grants. 


Fundraising – Ruth Henderson and Tom O’Donnell 

Ruth has had limited success with grant applications, but many are still out. 

Lisa from the Central Iowa STEM Hub suggested the Wellmark Foundation. Dan will ask her more about it and what they do. She said they quietly support a lot of things around Iowa and South Dakota.


Annual meeting/elections: Review nominations and set ballot for general membership – Tom O’Donnell and board 

Ruth reported that she has inquired with the Seed Saver organization and Iowa Wings to Water about people willing to serve on the board.

Tom didn’t do a Google form as he planned after the last meeting but believes it would have yielded little. Dan fears that asking members to nominate people will lead to many unknown nominees and we couldn’t be sure they’re a good fit. Dan has tried a couple of people without luck. 

Tom noted that when we sought board members two years ago, both Maurine Neiman and Dierdre Egan expressed an interest. Dierdre stepped back in favor of Maurine. Tom will contact Dierdre again.

Tom will contact Leslie Sand in Decorah, hoping to find someone in northeast Iowa. He’ll also contact Art Cullen and the Sanford Museum in Cherokee in search of someone from Northwest Iowa.

We decided to delay a vote until we have people on the ballot.


Member topics for discussion


Next meeting

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