Partner Feature: Northwest Iowa STEM

19 Sep 2023

News, Partnerships, Workforce, Education, Resources

Okoboji No Boundaries students talking about the program.

At the beginning of the month the Corridor held a Quarterly Investor Meeting and Lunch & Learn event in partnership with Northwest Iowa STEM. This event brought together employers, community leaders and educators to discuss the hands-on and project-based learning opportunities available for students to better prepare them with the soft skills and experience for the workforce. Many Iowa STEM programs are reliant on employer and educator partnerships. Attendees heard from individuals involved in the various STEM programs including the Teacher Externship Program, No Boundaries and STEM BEST.

Teacher Externship Program

Teacher Externships give educators the opportunity to answer the common question from students: “When will I ever use this?” Educators can work side-by-side with industry employees to bring curriculums to life through real-world application to take back to their classrooms. The partnership between employers and local schools gives real-world information and applications of STEM disciplines for career possibilities in Iowa for educators to share with students.

Externships are full-time, six-week temporary summer positions in local businesses for educators in mathematics, science and/or technology. These teachers earn a stipend of up to $5,000 and three graduate credits through the University of Northern Iowa Continuing Education program.


BEST stands for Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers, and the STEM BEST® + HD Program prepares students for future career success through fostering growth in high-demand skills. These include innovative thinking & analysis; creativity, originality & initiative; complex communication & collaboration; active learning through authentic experiences; resilience, stress tolerance & flexibility; and reasoning, problem-solving & ideation.

A local program that has benefited from STEM BEST is No Boundaries. This collaboration between the GT-RA, Okoboji, and Spencer school districts connects students with real-world projects within local businesses and organizations.

The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is on a mission to engage students to increase interest and achievement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) studies. This is done through partnerships between educators, employers, non-profits, parents, students, policy leaders, community leaders, and more.

The Northwest Iowa STEM Region includes the Iowa Lakes Corridor region of Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson and Emmet counties. Iowa Lakes Community College is the Regional STEM Hub Institution, and Mary Trent is the Regional Manager. Contact Mary to see how you can get involved!