top of page

Science Iowa agenda

May 28, 2023



President Dan Chibnall called the meeting to order at 12:08. Also present: treasurer Ruth Henderson and secretary Tom O’Donnell.


Approve the minutes of the April 16, 2023, meeting. See:


Approved unanimously.


Treasurer’s report – Ruth Henderson



The written report has an item of $346 for event insurance. That’s actually $296 for event insurance and $50 for a permit allowing the ice cream truck. The next main expense is for musicians. Printing will cost less thanks to West Des Moines schools.


Old business:



2023 Science Festival Trail – Ruth Henderson




There are more exhibitors this year. Robotics will be a single item on the passport so there’s no need to reprint those. Ruth has emailed all organizations to check in with them on logistics. 

The park playground is under construction, so we’ll need more signs directing people to Biddle shelter. Ruth wants to put organizations along the path to that shelter so there is a progression or activities and things to see.

Dan asked if we could print a small map to direct people, perhaps taking the map West Des Moines parks has and drawing on it. Ruth will check on it.

Ruth says the Waste Management Authority racks we used for trash last year were a chore to get and return. We should rethink how we want to handle trash. She is thinking about tall boxes. Trying to get people to recycle is difficult.

Volunteer numbers are down. Ruth contacted both Waukee and West Des Moines Silver Cord programs. She can’t find a contact for the Des Moines silver cord program.

Canopies and tables: Ruth has three to four canopies and five tables. She is sending a Google form asking exhibitors if they need a canopy. Tom can get three canopies from family and two from Bentonsport.

Ruth as submitted items to the Catch Des Moines and Des Moines Parent calendars. The festival is in virtual backpacks for area schools. She sent bulletin information to 22 area churches and synagogues.

Tom said we should try to capture where people heard about the event along with their email addresses. Ruth will create a google form to sign in people.

Tom would like to see a stronger presence for Science Iowa itself. We help others publicize their organizations but don’t do enough to promote ourselves. Ruth will work on an insert for the gift bags. We also can have our trifold display and will station someone with it. 

Nathan has aggressively pursued donations and has gotten 200 bottles of water from Hy-Vee, plus Chick-Fil-A coupons and other donations. Ruth will take advantage of a big Hy-Vee sale to buy 200 hot dogs for $35. 

Kid craft activities: Ruth is considering worm composting jars for assembly. Her friend Phyllis will help us with this. 

Ruth also is looking at kinetic sand. Play sand is inexpensive. The other ingredients are corn starch and vegetable oil. She’s also considering making seed bombs.

Ruth has issued calls for donations, but most businesses or organizations are begging off. 


Follow-up on actions:


Dan said his contact at the Science Center of Iowa told him June is too busy to participate in the festival. They’d like to do something in the future. The folks at Wellmark have never responded. His contact at Indian Hills Junior High said they would spread the word about the event. 

Tom reported that Axios will put something in its newsletter. He will contact Iowa Public Radio again. The Iowa Environmental Council will put it in their calendar.

Ruth gave Julie Meachen the festival information for DMU publicity but received no response.


New business


Iowa Environmental Council action on the Nutrient Reduction Strategy – Tom

The council called for its organizations to suggest actions contesting the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s campaign celebrating the 10th annniversary of the largely ineffective Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Tom replied with a suggestion and Alicia Vasto from the council sent this on May 1:


We are interested in putting some information up online to provide as a resource and push back against the ag narrative of success over the past 10 years. We’re also looking for folks that might be interested in writing a guest column or op-ed about the success narrative and/or lack of accountability for progress on the strategy.

Would you be interested in working on or supporting either of those ideas? Or something else?

Tom will contact her to see if it’s too late and how we can help.


Water monitoring call to action – Tom

Tom wants to see more of this but lacks the capacity to track and react to events. He believes our call to action on this subject has had an impact, but we have few if any ways to track it. We’ll all keep watch, especially during legislative season.

bottom of page