Martha McCormick

Founder & Convener of Next Step Adventure

For Martha McCormick, every step is an adventure. An exhilarating ride through food service, education and corrections led to her niche in youth development, starting in ISU Extension in the 1970s, where she took the 4-H philosophy of hands-on education to kids who were often excluded from traditional 4-H programs. For more than 30 years, her work involved program development, grant writing and project management, staff supervision and inspiration.

LucyKate with June at the Art Center
Grandkids are the best!
Martha McCormick and her cat in a hat
Cat in a hat serves as creative muse

Throughout her career, Martha has used experiential education, teambuilding, storytelling and mind mapping to reflect on the past, gain insight and define the future. As a certified yoga instructor, she enthusiastically embraces the inclusion of yoga and acroyoga in the experiential education movement.

Martha McCormick and Kate in India
Martha and her daughter Kate on their pilgrimage to India

In 2006, she founded Next Step Adventure to extend her values of creativity, collaboration, and fun to organizations and individuals who were drawn to her leadership style. Martha has recently moved away from the day-to-day work, and toward figurehead status, long an aspiration of hers.

Martha is an Iowa transplant from California, but she’s flourished in Iowa since 1968 when she rode the train from LA to school at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon. After graduating from the University of Iowa in 1972, she moved across the state to Tama, then Ames, where she earned a Masters in Education from Iowa State University in 1980.

These days Martha explores the world through making art, gardening and yoga. Perhaps the greatest adventure is the addition of a granddaughter. Until she turned 4, June Rose spent at least a day a week with Martha while her mama tended a classroom of middle schoolers. Going to preschool has been a big change for everyone, but that’s how the next adventure starts, right?

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Read the latest blog posts by Martha

  • Just breathe
    What comes to mind when you hear the word “breath?” Do you have a memory of getting the wind knocked out of you when you did a belly flop in the pool? Or holding your breath when you were scared? …
  • A Mindful Spring
    I’ve been determined to really pay attention to spring this year, and to share it with some folks who seem to have an easier time being mindful than most.
  • It’s been a while
    …since I’ve dug deep into my experience in youth development. Being an educator is hard these days; I think it always has been. Kids, parents, counselors, administrators, teachers face criticism every day. I was excited to share some time with …
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Martha McCormick at Central Iowa Yoga Retreat
Flying high at Central Iowa Yoga Retreat