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Science Iowa minutes

April 16, 2023

1 p.m.


Call to order


Present: president Dan Chibnall, treasurer Ruth Henderson, Secretary Tom O’Donnell and director Nathan Steimel.


Approve the minutes of the March 13, 2023, meeting. See:


Ruth moves approval. Nathan seconds. Motion carried unanimously.


Treasurer’s report – Ruth Henderson



A $12 payment for our Google domain arrived in our email. Tom makes these payments. He will confirm it.


Old business:


Report on Indianola Sustainability Fair – Ruth Henderson


It was fun, held at the middle school. They had two food truck. Ruth made contacts with organizations and signed one for the festival. Others are still undecided. She distributed the remaining STEM packets. Anita Christensen with CCL and another woman headed the event. It’s good to support it. Dan said Lisa from the South Centra STEM told him they have no budget for the rest of year, but they have some materials left that Dan will get for our swag bags.


Report on Darwin Day – Ruth Henderson and Dan Chibnall 


Ruth said they had fantastic speakers. We had a table and she talked with students a bit. Some took the survey to sign up for Science Iowa. One is in the Iowa City Science Booster Club. She is interested in coming for the Science Festival Trail. Ruth would return next year, but it’s not a place to have a table.

Nathan couldn’t attend, but he knew many students who enjoyed it. He said it’s a speaker series and once they have a lineup there’s little else to do.

Tom noted that Darwin Day does a good job with publicity. Nathan noted that professors promote it and offer extra credit for attendance.


2023 Science Festival Trail – Ruth Henderson




The ice cream food truck should help bring in some money, but West Des Moines parks charges extra for it. It’s technically catering so only participants can buy. It’s probably not a big deal if others buy ice cream. West Des Moines has no way to enforce it.

Eighteen organizations are signed. Some are tentative. Tom asked whether it’s time to think about limiting the size.


Fundraising: We’re still seeking grants. Dan will talk to someone at Wellmark when they return from vacation.

Promotions: Anita Christensen said her group put a blurb for their event in church bulletins. Ruth suggested making a list of churches, especially big churches, in West Des Moines. Notices should go in bulletins not more than 1 or 2 weeks before the event. Nathan attended St. Francis. He can contact them.

Ruth will investigate bulletins.

Printing is undecided. West Des Moines schools may not be able to do it at cost as they did in prior years.

Silver cord request has been submitted to WDM schools. 

Digital backpack notices sent to  WDM schools and will be sent again before the event. Will wait until May for Waukee.

Ruth is hoping to borrow a Popcorn machine, but only Dan knows someplace that has one: The Harkin Institute at Drake, but he’s not sure they loan it.

We may have more organizations. How will we handle additional tables and canopies?

Ruth would like to redesign the flyer. Dan and Tom will help.


Nathan to contact Chick-Fil-A, Rotellas and Hy-Vee, seeking spoons, ice, condiments, etc. 

No word from the Science Center. Dan will nag them.

Tom will follow-up with Kate Garner and with IPR. He’ll handle notices to Axios, Catch Des Moines and

Ruth may ask Laurie to get some fossils for Meachen’s lecture. Meachen has photos, but having physical things would be handy. Ruth is contacting friends of the Neal Smith Refuge. Dan will see about getting some, too.

Ruth is seeking ideas for kids crafts and activities. Perhaps kinetic sand. At the sustainability fair, kids assembled and took home a composting jar with earthworms. That looked fun. Dan has a colleague teaching at Indian Hills Elementary in Clive. She may have ideas on who to talk with about the festival overall and kids’ activities. Dan will contact her.


Follow-up on actions:


Ruth to contact Julie Meachen about collaborating with DMU on publicity. Ruth is waiting until she knows about fossils.


Ruth on requests for registered organizations to put the festival in their publications and on their calendars. She is doing this.


Ruth also talked with the Iowa Environmental Council at the Capitol. They were unsure if they would participate, but they will put it on their member calendar. Angelisa Belden is the contact. Tom will contact her. If they can’t come, perhaps they can offer swag. 

Tom on pitching the SFT to Iowa Public Radio. They haven’t responded, but it was a long way away. He’ll contact them again.


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


Follow-up on actions:


Tom to contact Maurine Neiman and Dierdre Egan. He asked Maurine if Dierdre would be available. He ended up with a recommendation for Krista Osadchuk. She agreed to run for the board but hasn’t acknowledged any contacts since then. Tom will call her.


Tom to contact Leslie Sand in Decorah. She responded. Tom is waiting to see if we have a candidate before contacting the people she recommended.

Tom to contact Art Cullen and the Sanford Museum in Cherokee.  Art hasn’t replied. He held off since we seemed to have a lead on a board candidate.

Dan said everyone he has asked has demurred. Ruth asked a retired teacher. He also demurred.

Terry Henderson suggested Steve Adams from Red Oak. Tom may ask Jan Norris about him.

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