State fair exhibit highlights how donors help students

From a fashion show to space mining, Iowa State's main exhibit at the Iowa State Fair this year will highlight how donor support has created special opportunities for students.

For the "Forever True, Thanks to You" exhibit, university marketing partnered with the Iowa State University Foundation to show off student clubs and experiences made possible by giving.

"The whole exhibit is to demonstrate how donor support has helped the university, your community and the world be exceptionally better," said Carole Custer, university marketing director.

The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Varied Industries Building at the fair, which runs Aug. 10-20. The emphasis on the impact of donations comes during the foundation's eight-year "Forever True, For Iowa State" campaign to raise $1.1 billion in private funding by mid-2020. The total raised is nearing $750 million.

Displays will include:

  • A quarter-scale tractor designed and built by the Cyclone Power Pullers club for an annual competition testing performance, maneuvering and durability
  • Several award-winning garments created for Iowa State's student-run Fashion Show
  • A solar-power food dehydrator, the product of a student-founded startup, designed to help farmers in the developing world save more of their harvest and stave off hunger
  • A student-designed baseball mitt to be used by participants in Courage League Sports, an Urbandale-based nonprofit that sponsors adaptive sporting events for children and adults with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities
  • Two robots designed and built by Cyclone Space Mining, a club that enters their robots in the national NASA Robotic Mining Competition

Fairgoers also can don a virtual reality headset to watch an immersive, 360-degree video of student experiences and campus landmarks supported by donors. For instance, viewers can see College of Veterinary Medicine students using Frosty, the mechanical Holstein that simulates a difficult birth of a 70-pound calf. They also can explore Lake LaVerne, the Stanton Memorial Carillon or Reiman Gardens, all built with private gifts.

"People are at the Iowa State Fair, but we're trying to bring them to Iowa State University while they're there," said Ryan Peterson, senior director of creative services for the foundation.

Football posters and light wands

During the course of the fair, Iowa's largest event, Custer said about 500,000 people will pass by the 1,800 square feet of all things Iowa State, including the ISU Book Store retail space.

"Our goal is to have our exhibit be a destination. We can't compete with the butter cow, but we do have many, many people say this is the exhibit they start with," she said.

About 30,000 free Cyclone football posters will be handed out and temporary ISU tattoos will be applied, Custer said. A unique giveaway this year is light wands, like those provided at the men's basketball game against Kansas in January. Plus, there are daily drawings for ISU Book Store gift certificates and tickets for football and volleyball games and Iowa State Center productions.

Student-athletes and coaches will pop in occasionally to sign autographs, and senior administrators will stop by the exhibit at times, Custer said.

About 200 volunteers will work at the exhibit, including faculty, staff, administrators, foundation employees and others, Custer said.

"We are the land-grant university. We are the people's university. So we are there to communicate with the people of Iowa," Custer said.

New shirts

With limited space, the bookstore has to be particular about what it sells at the fair. T-shirts will include a recently introduced product line co-branded with Case IH that touts Iowa State agriculture, said Amy DeLashmutt, the store's marketing/customer service manager.

The mini-store also sells some purely practical items. Iowa weather can change quickly. "Sometimes you have to buy a sweatshirt. Sometimes you have to buy a poncho," DeLashmutt said.

Extension and outreach

The state fair is the biggest show of the year for Iowa youth who participate in 4-H, which is headquartered at Iowa State and available in all 99 counties through ISU Extension and Outreach. Roughly 4,500 contest entries from 4-Hers will be on display at the 4-H Exhibits Building and various livestock venues. During the fair, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will award scholarships to some 4-H exhibitors who are in high school.

ISU Extension and Outreach, which is involved in the fair in numerous ways, also provides the nutritional data for the Des Moines Register's Iowa State Food Finder app.

On Aug. 11, designated 4-H Day at the fair, Cy will be at the Iowa 4-H Foundation tent on the Grand Concourse from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. At 2 p.m. that day, Cy will take on Herky and TC in a mascot grape-stomping challenge.

On Aug. 17, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will honor newly designated Iowa Heritage Farms. Six of those family farms included land originally sold to fund the founding of Iowa State as a land-grant university. Extension and Outreach will identify those families during the ceremony, which will be held at about 4 p.m. in the Livestock Pavilion.

Student scenes

For the second straight year, College of Design students will be sketching fair scenes amid the crowd. The "Artists Next Door" project is meant to be interactive, with student artists talking to fairgoers as they work with charcoal, graphite and pastels -- perhaps even dispensing some drawing tips.

"A lot of people have never seen an artist work," said Taylor Carlson, the graduate student in integrated visual arts who is coordinating the project.

From Aug. 14-17, groups of student artists will sketch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. either on the grand concourse by food vendors or near the Agriculture Building, Carlson said. The students, selected by faculty as high achievers, will also be shadowed by 4-Hers who are interested in art.

The students are Jessica "Essi" Mathews, a junior in industrial design; Chloe Enos, a graduate student in graphic design; Grace Herzberg, a sophomore in biological pre-medical illustration; and Rachel Geneser, a senior in biological pre-medical illustration. Those who don't catch them in action can see their artwork displayed at the 4-H Building.

The doctor is in

The College of Veterinary Medicine will be well-represented at the fair, as usual.

Dr. Kelly Still Brooks, a clinical assistant professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, will serve as the state fair veterinarian, overseeing the health of all animals at the fair. Dr. Troy Brick, an assistant professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, will assist her, along with four Vet Med students.

About 20 Vet Med faculty and students will help with the fair's 11 youth vet camps. About 15 Vet Med students will volunteer in the Animal Learning Center.