AMES, Iowa – When two AmeriCorps members combine with a bunch of kids and a whole lot of science, the sparks may fly — literally— but everybody benefits. The volunteers, Priscilla Delgado and Jess Truby, are working with ISU Extension Science, Engineering and Technology (E-SET) through the Iowa AmeriCorps State of Promise program. It actually is rocket science — and then some.
ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development hosts the program in collaboration with Iowa’s Promise and the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service. These AmeriCorps members serve with youth development programs in communities across the state.
Delgado will graduate from Iowa State University with a degree in microbiology on a pre-med track, so the E-SET position fits her interests perfectly.
“It’s a great opportunity to try to motivate children to get into those fields as well, especially seeing how we need more scientists, we need more engineers in our country right now,” Delgado said.
Getting kids interested in science also motivates Truby, who took a semester off from class at Iowa State to take this AmeriCorps position. In addition to the connections and networking skills he’s gaining, he’s having fun, he said, “It’s been a great experience because you get to play with some really cool toys such as the LEGO mindstorm robotics … following Antarctica’s climate … even learning about rocketry.”
Both Truby and Delgado work with school-age youth on a number of ISU Extension science-related activities.
“What really impresses me is how much these kids know. They’re really smart,” Delgado said. “I was just totally blown away on how some of those kids were thinking at such a young age. It really showed me how much E-SET can contribute to get all these kids motivated.”
One of Truby’s projects is a new online 4-H video club, similar to Utube or Vimeo. But there’s a difference, he said. “We want to add an educational aspect. After this club and Web site are developed, kids will be able to upload video to our site and then we’ll have professionals in the cinematography field — volunteers —help them out and give them tips and pointers on how they can improve their videos. This will be a great way to help kids get interested in the field of video-making and help them improve their skills.”
The kids aren’t the only ones who gain from AmeriCorps, Delgado said. “I’ve learned so much, but giving back to the community is what’s most important. I would totally recommend [AmeriCorps] for anyone … that wants to make a difference, that wants to impact lives.”
“The program encourages people to be involved and helps them accomplish things for their communities,” said Judy McCarthy, ISU Extension’s director for the program. “AmeriCorps members help solve problems, bring communities together and set an example of caring and community spirit that America needs.”
AmeriCorps Week is May 9-16.
Get more information about Iowa AmeriCorps State of Promise.
Listen to an interview with Priscilla Delgado and Jess Truby.
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775,