Celebrate Service

Martha McCormickSocial Justice1 Comment

Chihuly glass, St. Louis Botanical Center

I grew up in southern California, and have often been asked what I’m doing in Iowa. But I’m proud to live in a state with such a strong history of  civil rights, fairness and equality. Iowa again blazed this trail through extending the right to marry to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This controversial Iowa Supreme Court decision follows … Read

Speak Your Mind

Martha McCormickOutdoor Education, Social Justice1 Comment

Nature hike

Polk County Conservation is collecting input from the public about renovations for Yellow Banks Park in the southeast part of Polk County, and for Thomas Mitchell Park in Mitchellville, the eastern part of the county. You can fill out a survey here– Yellow Banks Park Survey Thomas Mitchell Park Survey …and you can see the survey results here– Yellow Banks … Read


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My next birthday is one that ends in a “0” and requires a significant celebration. Last week I was told that this, my 60th year, is one of extraordinary challenges and opportunities in areas I’ve been exploring all my life. One of those areas is fear of heights. Learning to climb poles comfortably was a huge step toward conquering that … Read

Find Amelia

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March 2010–Women’s History Month–flew by as is its habit. Again I am aware of my ignorance about the women who have shaped our country and our world. And again I find I know only a little about the women I did learn about as a kid. Amelia Earhart for instance… The other night I watched the movie, “Amelia.” Before I watched … Read

Join the Movement

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Go outside! It’s spring, and Iowa is joining a broad based movement to renew a close, personal relationship with the out of doors. April 10-11–As part of Iowa’s “Reconnecting Children with Nature” effort, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Next Step are organizing the Iowa Outdoor Youth Summit. The goal of the event is to bring groups of youth … Read

Work for Equal Pay

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Nitro Crossing

On January 29, 2009, President Barack Obama signed his first bill into law–The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. It extends the rights of women and other minority groups, to sue for equal pay for equal work. Lilly Ledbetter was paid less than her male co-workers for almost two decades, but she didn’t realize it until it became too late … Read

Learn through Service

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Iowa Outdoor Summit

Service learning is more than picking up litter and cutting down trees. Kids and adults can have fun and learn a lot from doing such activities together. But to have a bigger impact, service learning must be well planned and provide opportunities for reflection and feedback. Experiences with the best outcomes include youth voice and choice, varied processing opportunities and reflection that … Read

See the iJAG Survey

Martha McCormickSocial Justice1 Comment


I am working with iJAG (Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates) to assess longterm outcomes for graduates of the program. iJAG is working hard to increase the high school graduation rate in Iowa and have staff and programs in high schools from Sioux City to Keokuk and Dubuque to Council Bluffs. This survey is designed to get an idea of how … Read

Discover a World of Difference

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Istanbul Tile

Sometimes people are amazed at the places I’ve been–Oaxaca, Zambia, Greece, Istanbul, Poland, Czech Republic, Budapest. Paris, Lille and London last spring were amazing, but not as exotic as the earlier destinations. Sometimes even I am surprised that I never even had a passport until 2004! But there are ways to experience the world  without leaving your home town. One … Read

Excel at Math and Science

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People used to believe that girls weren’t good at science and math; my high school physics teacher thought it was just luck when I got the high score on our weekly quiz. Until I aced statistics in graduate school, I thought I couldn’t do math. When my nephew was checking out the College of Engineering at Iowa State University 3 years … Read