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Science Iowa minutes

November 29, 2021

5 p.m.


Call to order: 


President Dan Chibnall called the meeting to order at 5:03. Present: President Dan Chibnall, Treasurer Ruth Henderson, Secretary Tom O’Donnell and Diane Jones of West Des Moines. Cornelia Flora of Ames joined later in the meeting.


Approve the minutes of the October 25, 2021, meeting. See:


Tom suggested an amendment to remove an extraneous word. Ruth moved to accept as amended; Dan seconded. Approved unanimously.


Treasurer’s report – Ruth Henderson


The balance is unchanged at $1427.67 in checking, $120 in business savings. No activity.


Ruth had Green States Credit Union remove the debit card, which was costing us a small monthly fee. 


Old business:


Bank account and online donation options – Ruth Henderson


Ruth is ready to add a Venmo payment button to the Facebook page and to the website. It must be linked to a phone number and she is willing to link it to hers. The downside is that means she can’t have a personal Venmo account linked to that number. The upside is she has no interest in having a Venmo account. The linked phone number can change at any time so she can update it when she passes on the mantle of treasurer. There are no fees.


Ruth also is considering Facebook pay. It’s easy for people to use if they’re on that site. There is a small fee but if we get more donations with that approach, it may be worth it. It requires changing our Facebook classification from community organization to a nonprofit. She looked at that but didn’t want to act and risk causing problems. It would have meant deleting our community organization status. 


Dan asked how being a nonprofit on Facebook would affect our IRS application. Tom has no idea but is willing to check. 


We discussed whether such donations are tax-deductible yet. Previous information indicates that donations can be retroactively tax-deductible if we get nonprofit status later. 


Tom and Dan suggested it would be best to wait until after the first of the year to institute payments so people contributing over the next month don’t expect a tax deduction for 2021. 


A downside: Donors would have to have a Venmo account to use that. Ruth said that’s why she thought we also should use Facebook pay.


Diane noted another negative: She has heard that Facebook Pay can lag in making payments to organizations. And then there’s the fee.


Tom is OK with Venmo if other people use it widely.


Tom will check on whether calling ourselves a nonprofit on Facebook would affect our IRS status. He’ll also write a paragraph explaining our status for the Facebook page.


Ruth will prepare our Venmo account but make it public only after the first of the year.


Updates on contacts with other groups for collaboration – board members


List of science museums – Tom O’Donnell. See:


Tom will contact museums after January 1 to explore collaborations.


Ruth also contacted Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek and will hear from him soon. Jay Staker of Iowa State Extension has retired but she has tried to message him via LinkedIn to get a new contact. She also may get in touch with Mike Zeller, who does DNA demonstrations in schools for extension.


Dan has feelers out to people at UNI, Drake and the Science Center of Iowa. The first two are swamped until the semester ends. The Science Center contact has started a new position and will be in touch once they settle in. 


Tom says these organizations may want to sign onto the candidate survey.


Board resignation and replacement – Board members

Compilation of prospective board members for discussion – board members


We discussed the former student Ruth had approached about serving on the board. He has an outstanding resume and is eager. Ruth said he is quite energetic and she has mentored him on many things.


Since it’s a board resignation, Dan can appoint a new board member.


We have eight names for consideration plus Ruth’s student and a couple of people Maurine mentioned.


Tom suggested we have a private board meeting to discuss candidates and choose the top two or three and invite them in order.


Most board members agreed. We discussed geographic diversity. Dan suggested we not let it hinder us from getting the best candidate. 


Tom moved to have a private board meeting to discuss board member candidates. Ruth seconds. Approved unanimously. Dan will put forth a scheduling poll.


Update on 2022 candidate survey – Tom O’Donnell


Tom updated the board on progress toward compiling a 2022 candidate survey and inviting science and environmental advocacy organizations to participate. Science Iowa did a survey on its own in 2018 and with other organizations in 2020. Once again, we’re working with Connecting Science to Society at the University of Iowa and ASPIRE at Iowa State. We’re contacting organizations that participated in 2020 to see if they want to contribute questions and sign on to the survey. Then we’ll review questions from previous years and reuse and rewrite as needed.


The problem in 2020 was the large number of questions, which candidates found daunting. We’d like to trim that to increase responses. Diane suggested asking organizations to prioritize their questions.


Tom noted that this is the only action we have planned for now. It’s a lot of work and we may be able to draw volunteers in to help. He would like to see the board maintain a bias for action.


New business:


Iowa Environmental Council membership – Tom O’Donnell


Tom noted that our membership, which he has paid in previous years, is coming due. It’s around $100. Dan said we should continue participating because they’re a great organization.


Ruth will send a check to avoid the credit card fee. Tom will send her information on where to pay. 


Next meeting: 


Dan asked if we would prefer to meet before Christmas, between Christmas and New Year’s or just meet in early January of 2022.


Tom suggested we have our private board meeting in early January but forgo a December meeting and just have a general meeting in late January. Dan agreed, saying we want people to have time to travel and enjoy the holiday season. 


Dan will send two meeting time polls, one for the private board meeting and one for a general meeting in January.


In member comments, Cornelia noted that she is concerned that our political leadership seems uninterested in science and evidence. It’s important that we have leaders who support science at all levels.


Tom noted that Cornelia is on the Iowa board for the Sierra Club and asked if it would participate in the candidate survey. She wants to take it to the board. Tom will send her details.


Meeting adjourned at about 5:47 p.m.

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