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Science Iowa minutes

December 5, 2023

1:30 p.m.


Present: president Dan Chibnall, treasurer Ruth Henderson, director Laurie Neuerburg, secretary Tom O’Donnell.


Call to order 


President Dan Chibnall called the meeting to order at 1:32 p.m.


Approve the minutes of the October 22, 2023, meeting. See:


Ruth moved; Laurie seconded. Motion carried unanimously. 


Treasurer’s report – Ruth Henderson




Balances: $120 savings;  $500.77 checking. No bills are due. 


Old business:


Science Festival Trail planning – Ruth


Ruth hopes to assign some duties for the festival. She’d like to contact organizations again in January to get it on their calendars and hopefully get commitments. 

We may have three speakers, one each hour. We have Chris Jones. We considered Dasia Taylor, but Ruth isn’t sure how to contact her. Tom says she has started a company. He’ll try to contact her through that. Another option is the Jewels Academy founder, Kimberly Wayne. Tom said these are good ideas, but we need something that will attract kids. Ruth could talk to Wayne about having the academy do something kid-friendly, but Ruth and Dan later suggested inviting the science center. Dan will contact someone he volunteered with there.

Organizations: Ruth will review her list of who was there and couldn’t come and distribute it to us to make contacts.

Ruth also will contact the print shop regarding options for signs, including big ones on vinyl. Attendees last year asked for bigger signs and more than just the ones in the park.


Kemin, how to sell ourselves and fundraising – Ruth and Tom

Tom sought responses to the proposal he wrote. He asked how we would spend a donation if it is for promotion and whether we can develop a budget.

Ruth said it was nice to get appearances on morning news programs to promote the festival and asked about radio ads.

On the question of whether promotion is the best use for any donation, Dan said few people know about Science Iowa, so some promotion is in order. Any remaining money after paying for promotion could be used for the festival. He suggested telling potential donors we’re considering a second such festival trail and may need financing for that.

Ruth said promotions and signs are a problem. We’ve had success getting on television, in schools’ virtual backpacks and on the Catch Des Moines events email. It would be helpful to get Des Moines Register digital advertisements or radio. The event’s costs are low since many things are donated. The two major items are reserving the park at $500 and event insurance at around $300. If the event grows, we may have to rent some canopies if some groups can’t supply their own.

Tom asked whether we should seek donations for things other than the SFT. For example, he pays our monthly Google account fees. That’s fine with him, but it may not continue forever.

Ruth said our WIX website has 2 gigabytes of free storage and would cost $16 a month to upgrade to 100 GB. Space is running out and she’s had to try to remove some items. That is an extra thing we need to account for in operating costs. The site needs an upgrade.

Dan said we could couch our grant request in terms of money to communicate what we do. The website falls under that, along with promoting the SFT.

Ruth noted that we can boost items on Facebook for a fee. That’s another item to consider in the promotion budget.

Tom will put the proposal on Google drive so we’re working with a single version.

Tom asked if $2,000 is the right amount to seek. Ruth said it’s difficult to know what an organization is comfortable funding. Whole Foods gave us $1,700, but Ruth can’t recall if she asked for a specific amount in her request to the company.

Dan said he’s comfortable seeking $2,000. Ruth will see if we can apply to Whole Foods again. She has applied to Casey’s and Kum and Go without luck. Tom suggested we consider science-adjacent firms. Possibilities are Corteva or John Deere.

2024 candidate survey – Tom

Tom said the core group of ISU’s ASPIRE, UI’s Connecting Science to Society and Science Iowa have begun contacting organizations to sign onto the survey. So far the Iowa Environmental Council and a few others have agreed. He will seek help from Science Iowa members this spring to contact candidates for the primary.


Iowa Nature Summit 2023 – Ruth

Ruth had 250 flyers printed for $20 and Tom ordered a similar supply of stickers for $129 to go into swag bags for the summit. He will cover the sticker cost unless we get a grant. Ruth delivered both to Neil Hamilton for the summit, but we haven’t heard anything from him. Tom will ping him. We are now low on stickers and may have to replenish the supply for the SFT. 


New board member – Tom and Dan

Tom nominated Chris Jones to serve the term ending in March 2025. Ruth seconded.

Tom wanted board members understand that while Chris is an excellent candidate, he has become controversial in some circles and the board must accept that. Chris has criticized both political parties, so he’s not partisan. His strong opinions are what makes him attractive, but it also makes him a target for some people. Chris also may get impatient at how slowly we sometimes move. Nonetheless, we’re on the same page with Chris about science and water quality and he could spur us to more advocacy.

The board voiced support for Chris’s nomination. Ruth said his position on the board could give us more visibility. Laurie supports his nomination if her board position isn’t tied directly to her UI job because she doesn’t want to be perceived as overly political.

Ruth noted that we all have our opinions and voices outside of Science Iowa. That’s acceptable if we don’t claim to speak for the organization.

Tom agreed and said that when we’ve expressed opinions in op-eds and letters the board has endorsed them as coming from Science Iowa. Chris merely must be clear that his opinions do not necessarily represent those of Science Iowa.

Motion passed unanimously. Dan will welcome Chris to the board. Tom will send him these minutes and ask him for a photo and biography for the website.


In-person gathering

Are we still interested? Ruth said she would like that. Dan said if people are interested it’s a matter of aligning schedules after the holidays. Tom suggested including the annual meeting and perhaps some strategic planning with social time. We’ll discuss in January, once the new year has begun. Dan will send a survey to arrive at a January meeting time and day.

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