Legislative Day 2015


iJAG Students had a chance to speak with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad during Legislative Day 2015.


The Iowa State Capitol was buzzing today!! Not only because the Senate and the House of Representatives were busy passing the Gas Tax Bill, but students from iJAG classrooms all over the state had the chance to tell their story and ask their representatives to support iJAG (Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates) to the tune of one million dollars.  Governor Terry Brandstad currently has $700,000 reserved for iJAG this upcoming year, however if iJAG had a million dollars this powerful leadership and graduation program could expand to ten new programs across the state and benefit nearly 500 more Iowa students next year.  The students’ mission today was to thank their representatives for their time, tell their story, and to ask their leaders to make a decision that will help more Iowa students graduate with a purpose and unlock their potential.

Four Mason City iJAG students filled out applications and were selected to attend Legislative Day on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.  Grades, demonstrated leadership qualities, and the ability to communicate their story were all considerations when selecting the students that would represent Mason City iJAG.  Robert Argo (11), Anna Nicholson (11), Gryphon Tedder (10), and Sylena Alshara (9) represented Mason City and themselves exceptionally well today.  Robert and Sylena even had the prestigious opportunity to be chosen to visit with Governor Terry Brandstad in his office this morning.  This is the first time in the 15 year existence of iJAG that the Governor has asked to speak with students.  Argo, Nicholson, Tedder, and Alshara  spoke with Representative Steckman, Representative Byrnes, Representative Upmeyer, Representative Jacoby, Representative Stanerson, Senator Ragan, and Senator Dotzler to tell them why iJAG is a priority to them and to the future of Iowa.

The Mason City iJAG students also had an opportunity to see how the legislative process works and tour the Iowa State Capitol.  The Iowa State Law Library was their favorite with the spiraling staircases.   They also had the privilege of meeting and networking with other iJAG students across the state.   WHEN iJAG HAS a million dollars, these students can say that their stories helped so many others unlock their potential.




"iJAG's Got Talent"

A big shout-out to Tatiana Crowe, from iJAG MacArthur HS in Decatur Ill.,who made it through Round One in the competition for "America's Got Talent," and goes to the front of the line to compete this weekend in Chicago before the show producers. She's singing the song she sang this past fall at iJAG Leadership Development Conference, "I Believe the Children are the Future." What a great opportunity for such a young student!!!

Preparing Youth for the Future: iJAG Partners with Hyperstream


From left to right:  Tamara Kenworthy, Hyperstream Program Director, Mycal Hall, Mia Burns, and Debbie Berthal)

iJAG in partnerships with the IT departments of Nationwide Insurance and IBM are mentoring students to learn technology skills, find out more about IT careers, and prepare to compete at the annual Hyperstream competition at Iowa State University on April 24-25, 2015. Hyperstream was developed by the Technology Association of Iowa in 2008 and is one of the Top 9 STEM programs recognized by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. It is a partnership between business and education that brings experts into the classroom who share their technical expertise and serve as mentors for 5th through 12th graders across the state of Iowa.  iJAG students from Des Moines Lincoln and Dubuque Hempstead are taking advantage of this initiative that fosters real-world learning through hands-on technology projects, engaging presentations, and competitions like the one at Iowa State University on April 24th-25th.  

“I got involved in Hyperstream because I never had anyone introduce technology ideas and concepts to me when I was in high school. I didn’t get interested in technology until my sophomore year of college. I have always wished I would have been introduced to it sooner. I also have such a passion for technology and just want to share it with students. If I can inspire one student to become interested in technology, then I’ve already made a difference. Overall, working with students is really rewarding. I probably get more out of working with them than they do.”

~Luke Leidal, Nationwide Insurance

This year several female students from Dubuque Hempstead were able meet Tamara Kenworthy, the Hyperstream Program Director, at the Digigirlz Conference in Altoona, Iowa.   The Digigirlz conference showcased technology from all over the globe and encourages young women to get involved in technical fields. The group stayed for the ceremony that celebrated Iowa’s women in STEM.   STEM professors from Iowa, Iowa State, and Grinnell received awards for their accomplishments in their fields; which included discovering cures for certain types of cancer to developing alternatives source of fuels. 

“This was a great experience.   I can’t wait to come next year! Our generation is the generation that is going to show out in technology.   We already know it.  Now we have to use it to fix the world problems.  And we will.”

 ~Mycal Hall Freshman Hempstead HS

Dubuque Hempstead will be sending two teams for the state competition; one in multimedia and the other in Cyber Defense.  The Cyber Defense tract is a new and exciting tract for Hyperstream and one that will be not only a great career for the future but a necessary one to protect business and governments from cyber attacks.  

“There are evil people out there who can hack into government servers and create all kinds of chaos that is why we need to be one step ahead of them at all times,” 

 ~Ian Dahl Freshman Hempstead HS. 


Students from Lincoln High School working with Nationwide while on a tour to their Des Moines Campus.

Meanwhile at Des Moines Lincoln this year, two iJAG teams will compete in the Hyperstream competition in Ames later this April. One team is learning Robotics, which focuses on LEGO NXT Mindstorms. Through weekly modules, students build and program Mindstorm robots to perform increasing complex tasks. iJAG students are finding that problem-solving and teamwork are crucial to the success of their projects. The second team is focused on Multimedia. Each week, students shoot footage, edit video, create storyboards, and manage all aspects of video production for real-world projects including skill-training videos for the Puppy Jake Foundation. In April 2015, iJAG students will also premiere a PSA for the Puppy Jake Foundation, an organization that trains and provides services dogs for wounded veterans.

“Hyperstream is a way for me to mentor youths in IT much the same way I had IT mentors when I was young.”

 ~ Paul Beers, Nationwide


iJAG Students Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Dubuque Hempstead iJAG Students joined Hempstead Staff  and other dignitaries on their day off  from school to commemorate the birthday of Dr.  Martin Luther King Jr at the 23rd annual Dr. King, Birthday Breakfast, organized by the local chapter of the NAACP.      

iJAG Vice President Yasmine Bullock joined four other students at the Grand Harbor in Dubuque. Attendees shared a hot breakfast and listened to various speakers that discussed  the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as relevant civil rights issues that are pervading today.  

Long time civil rights leader Margaret Huang was the keynote speaker. The title of her address was,  “Critical Issue:  What WE, as a society, can do.”  Careanna Jaeger found her speech riveting and said she is “determined to do more at our school” in protecting people’s civil rights. Huang is a chief strategist for Amnesty International.   

Closing remarks were provided by Robert Kimball.  iJAG is familiar to Mr. Kimball as he was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Dubuque iJAG Initiation & Installation Ceremony.  

Dubuque Hempstead iJAG was honored to be a part of this event!

The 10 Skills Employers Most Want In 2015 Graduates

Forbes Magazine recently published an article featuring the skills most employers want from gradautes in the class of 2015. These skills are at the core of the JAG curriculum, the 37 competencies we teach our students in the iJAG program.

Click here to read the full article.

iJAG Celebrates Service For Veterans Day 2014

Masoncityvolunteers2  Washvolunteers

This year iJAG wanted to mark Veterans Day across all of our programs and set aside this time as an opportunity to serve others. Students walked in parades, put on Veterans Day assemblies, collected donations for Veterans groups, and hosted the military in their class rooms. Other students extended the day of service into the community gathering blankets for the homeless and even raking leaves for seniors.

Jeremy White Mason City 11-12 iJAG Specialist KIMT Golden Apple Teacher of the Month

Jeremy White’s biggest thrill is helping his students succeed. “We’re preparing them for that next step, whatever that may be,” said Mr. White. In fact, that’s his entire role as an Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates instructor. “We write resumes, cover letters, we do job interviews and, the students that are in the 11/12 program will have the opportunity to visit six different college campuses.” His students are learning skills that will prepare them for their futures, however for the here and now, this class means so much more. Senior, Rachel Bonnichsen said “He always makes sure that he talks to you, and asks what’s going on to see if he can do anything to help you.” It’s that extra effort that’s leaving a lasting impression on his students. “Mr. White is one of the kindest people I know. He’s a very generous person and he really cares about all the students in his care.” Mr. White said the students are his favorite part of coming to work every day, and seeing them reach their goals is the ultimate reward. “The kids had that potential in them all along, it’s just me facilitating it. The students have that greatness inside them already, and I just help bring it out.”

Click Here to View KIMT's Video

Leadership Development Conference 2014

LDC 2014 

Tuesday, October 14th

Des Moines, Camp Dodge

This Fall members from each of our 37 programs will come together to learn what it means to truly be a leader. Each school selects students to represnt them in their school's chapter of the Career Association, iJAG's extra curricular organization. These leaders formulate the plan for the year. On the 14th students will come to Des Moines to learn more about their roles as President, Vice President of Social Awareness, Vice President of Civic Awareness, Vice President of Career Development, Vice President of Service Learning, Vice President of Leadership Development and Secretary/Treasurer. Students will present their plans for the year and compete for awards based on their presentations. Check back for pictures and updates on Leadership Development Conference 2014.


Legislative Day 2014

Legislative Day 03-11-14 3
Cedar Rapids Washington High School freshman Jezirae Wright speaks with Representative Art Staed of Linn County, on March 11, 2014, while iJAG Education Specialist John Gianforte looks on.

On Tuesday, February 25, and Tuesday, March 11, 60 students from iJAG programs across Iowa visited the Capitol. Their goal, to share with state legislators their stories of how iJAG changed their lives. To most of them, without iJAG, they would not be on the path to graduation and fulfilling their dreams.

The current Iowa State Budget has only $540,000 allocated to iJAG for the upcoming year, down from the $670,000 granted to the organization last year.

For the past several years, the Iowa Legislature, in partnership with Governor Brandstad, have supported the growth of iJAG programs statewide. iJAG is seeking $1 Million to help with the continued growth of the program into communities with expressed need. For every dollar invested by the Governor and Iowa Legislature, iJAG can successfully leverage $1.85 from private and local supporters. Collectively this will support the start-up of 10 new iJAG programs, and assure that up to 500 additional students obtain their basic academic credentials.

iJAG is asking for the legislature to help us with continued growth in funding of programs in all high schools in Iowa which have students needing and wanting iJAG who can benefit from the program.

Legislative Day
Dubque Senior High School students Teresa Thoma and Jacquies Yates, Representative Pam Jochum, iJAG Education Specialist Jenny Duffy, iJAG Board Member JJ Keene, student Wayne Miller, and iJAG Education Specialist Tim Dolson on February 25, 2014.



Mason City Students Investigate Wartburg College to See If They Want To “Be Orange.”

Wartburg Visit
On Tuesday March 11, 2014 Mason City students Mari Wilson, Ryan Rubash, Rachel Bonnichsen, and Ruiz Detrick invested a day of Spring Break to travel to Waverly, Iowa to visit and tour Wartburg College.  Wilson, Bonnichsen, and Detrick are juniors, and Rubash is a senior.  While at Wartburg, these students had the opportunity to speak with Todd Coleman (Assistant Vice President of Admissions).  Mr. Coleman emphasized the importance of learning how to study, time management, getting involved, and finding a college or university that is the “right fit” for them.  Wartburg Senior Katlyn Underwood provided the students with a comprehensive tour of the Wartburg Campus.  Finally the students ate lunch with Katlyn at The Den Café and asked her questions about college and Wartburg.  iJAG students will further their investigation of college choices with a visits to NIACC and UNI in April.  Junior Rachel Bonnichsen said, “Today was a great experience, because not too many juniors have the opportunity to go on a college visit and see what it is like to be a college kid.” Even though Wartburg Students were on Winter Break, the crew from Mason City had an opportunity to get a snap shot of what college life is like at Wartburg, and what it means to “Be Orange.”