Giving Tuesday—Science Booster Clubs

We’ve been up to some fun stuff as usual over here in Iowa, but on Giving Tuesday it seemed appropriate to consider what has allowed the Science Booster Club project to grow so big and do so much.

In 2016, we’ve reached out to over 54,000 people in Iowa on topics like evolution and climate change. We’ve distributed 15 teacher grants, buying durable equipment that is currently used by about 4,200 students a year.

Believe it or not, we didn’t do all that for free! We had an incredible amount of support on so many levels from individuals and organizations. I want to thank our supporters publicly.

Donations $100–500

Hills Bank

Hills Bank helped fund one of our favorite outreach activities—our Iowa State Fair exhibit!

University of Iowa Community Credit Union 

UICCU helped us fund Sloth Fest, our celebration of Iowa’s tragically extinct ground sloths.


Walmart is the primary funder of our new exhibit, designed to combat serious misconceptions about our solar system and the universe.

Russ and Ashley Lankenau

Thanks to the Lankenaus’ generous donation, we are expanding our ground operations westward two months earlier than planned.

Anne Halsall

Another generous individual whose contribution is significantly aiding our westward expansion. She has also donated time to NCSE, and, by the way, is getting some serious attention for her groundbreaking new app, Winnie, that helps parents and kids explore the world together.


Donations $500–1500

Rockwell Collins

Rockwell Collins has twice funded Science Booster Club projects. The company was our very first large donor, back in 2015 when the club was just getting off the ground, and its assistance in 2016 contributed significantly to our first summer camp.

Combined Small Donors

There are dozens of people who have given us small donations—$20 or an hour or two of their time. Added together, these small donations for 2016 nearly total $1,500. And that’s significant, because every dollar we get translates into reaching about 10 people at our events. So even these small donations have a big impact, and they allow us the flexibility to handle basic needs. For example, I’d have a hard time getting a grant funded to buy 20 gallons of vinegar. But the contributions of just a couple of small donors can help us get all the vinegar we need to teach 10,000 people about ocean acidification at events across the state.


Donations $1500–5000

DuPont Pioneer

DuPont Pioneer’s commitment to rural STEM education is inspiring. Thanks to DuPont Pioneer’s donation this summer, we have been able to deliver more programming than we ever thought possible to rural audiences. Thanks also to the company’s funding, we have been developing an exhibit on genetics and evolution that will help people understand and appreciate the science behind modern agriculture.


ACT—the organization that produces the college admissions test of the same name, and does a lot more in the education world—was a major funder for our 2016 summer camp. Without ACT’s contribution, we couldn't have rented the bus that took our kids to all the great places we visited. Do you remember how much you loved going on field trips? Can you imagine how much these kids loved going on field trips every day? It was a big deal.

European Society for Evolutionary Biology

In a stunning show of support, the ESEB has funded us twice in 2016. The ESEB’s outreach grant program is especially interested in helping to bring evolution education to underserved populations—and so are we! ESEB not only helped us put together the 2016 summer camp but also is the major funder of our spring project, "Evolution at the Farmer’s Market", a pop-up exhibition bringing an understanding of evolution to rural markets across the state through the use of seasonal vegetables, fruits, and flowers.

Andrew DePristo

Andrew DePristo has been generous to the Science Booster Clubs with his money and with his time. Thanks to his invaluable contributions, we’ll be able to provide comprehensive start-up packages to at least four new clubs in new areas, giving them the tools they need to bring tested, high-quality outreach activities to their communities.

Donations $5000+

Integrated DNA Technologies

IDT’s charitable arm, the ACTG (get it?) Foundation, has not once but twice funded our summer camp. Thanks to the foundation’s generous support, we’re good to go for a second round of NCSE’s summer camp in 2017, and won’t need to look elsewhere for funding. Not only has this corporation been generous with its money, it’s also allowed us to take kids to its Coralville, Iowa, location to tour the facilities, do fun lab activities with real scientists, and see many types of STEM careers that they could grow up to pursue.

A special thank you to the University of Iowa!

Without the bold and continued support of the University of Iowa, the Science Booster Club project would not be the powerful force for science education it is today. Thanks to our collaboration with the University of Iowa, we are able to run our project as a high-quality research study, allowing us to ethically acquire and share so much valuable information about the communities with which we work. And the resources the University has so generously shared with us are simply world-class, from treasures from its fossil collections to venue space to library and software access. The University of Iowa has helped fund graduate student interns three times, permitting its talented graduate students to contribute to outreach work on a paid basis. Few universities have demonstrated such a concrete commitment to broader impacts or such a forward-thinking commitment to diversifying and expanding their concept of graduate education.


To all our donors—Thank you!


If you want to be part of this story, there’s still time in 2016. Your donations won’t be felt only in Iowa but also in other states where volunteers are trying to get Science Booster Clubs off the ground! We’ve got people gearing up to get things moving in Tennessee, Virginia, New York, Rhode Island, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. As you might guess, there are some brave folks on this volunteer list! They need our help to get friendly, accurate, positive access to evolution and climate change education in their communities. It won't take too much to get them what they need. Ten bucks buys a lot of vinegar.

So please, give directly to the Science Booster Club project here. It’s tax-deductible!

Emily Schoerning
Short Bio

Emily Schoerning is the former Director of Community Organizing and Research at NCSE.

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