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Science Iowa minutes

August 24, 2023

3 p.m.


Call to order


Present: Dan Chibnall, Laurie Neuerburg, Ruth Henderson and Tom O’Donnell


Approve the minutes of the May 28, 2023, meeting. See:


Dan moved for approval. Ruth seconded. Motion carried unanimously.


Treasurer’s report – Ruth Henderson

Tom moved for approval. Dan seconded. Motion carried unanimously.


Old business:


Summary of 2023 Science Festival Trail – Ruth Henderson

Budget: See



Ruth noted that there were some food items left; all went to a pantry. Feedback from the exhibitors was mostly favorable. They liked that food and water were provided and were able to interact with families. One said they wished there had been more participation; another wanted more publicity. Ruth and Tom noted that we had more publicity than ever. Ruth said advertising and promotion cost money. Getting a strong sponsor would help. Another exhibitor asked for more canopies; another for an FAQ. Ruth asked if they would participate if we charged a nominal fee. A third each said yes, no and maybe. 

Tom asked if Ruth had an idea what attendees said about where they heard about the event. That will tell us where to focus our efforts. Church bulletins may have yielded little.

Dates: Most June dates were open when Ruth checked. Father’s Day seemed to be good. We also considered moving robotics back to the Coneflower Shelters. Ruth suggested using Biddle shelter for check-in, then sending attendees to the other activities. Exhibitors also wanted to have organizations close together; Ruth thinks they were close enough.

Dan noted that it’s hard to find space for robotics. Ruth said if we have more canopies we could put exhibitors in the grass and open the shelter for robots and other things.

Tom asked about how people flow through the park. Ruth said many people follow the walking path, but construction this year inhibited normal movement. Dan said some people started with robots, then moved to the main area, and vice versa. 

Dates: Ruth is waiting to hear from West Des Moines Parks and Recreation. There was general agreement to hold it on Father’s Day again, but Laurie said we should be sure the invitation and promotion makes it clear that same-sex families and single parents are welcome. Ruth will confirm the date.


Iowa Environmental Council Nutrient Reduction Strategy op-ed – Tom


Tom reported the piece appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Storm Lake Times and that reaction was excellent, with compliments from people he knows and from agricultural law expert Neil Hamilton. Ruth said we should seek other such opportunities. 



New business


Kemin and how to sell ourselves – Ruth


Ruth said Kemin is probably one of our better bets for getting a sponsorship, but it depends on how we sell ourselves and what we pitch to them. We might start with the sponsorship pitch we assembled for Integrated DNA. Dan asked if the pitch would be better based on what we’ve done or on what we’d like to do if we had the funder’s help. Tom said we need to develop our vision so we can tell them what we want to do. Dan said we must decide if we tell potential funders what we want to do or approach it in a way that makes it attractive to the funder. How much do we sacrifice to the pitch? Tom said we should look at other organizations and tailor the grant to what they want. Ruth suggested we look at what Kemin has donated to, their mission statement, etc. and get ideas of what we could tailor to them. We’ll report via email.


2024 candidate survey – Tom


Tom reported that the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) is once again seeking to catalyze statewide polls around the country. They have had several monthly meetings with state coalitions. Our survey effort is still organizing, but Tom will soon contact the student organizations, both NSPN chapters, to begin organizing our next iteration.


Iowa Nature Summit 2023 – Tom




Ruth will inventory our stickers. We may order more to supply the meeting’s swag bags, along with Science Iowa flyers. Ruth, Dan and Tom all expressed interest in attending the gathering.


New board member




Those present liked Jodi Enos-Berlage the most. Tom will contact her.


Next meeting: Dan will send a survey. 

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