Educating Iowa's Workforce

Students who graduate from one of Iowa’s public universities have a choice to make. Do they remain in the state, take a job and become a part of the state community that provided their education? Or do they take flight, move out of state, and get their start in a new area of the country?

Aggregated across the Regent Universities, 59 percent of bachelor’s degree earners choose to remain in Iowa after they earn their degree. Each year, Iowa’s public universities add 5,000 educated workers to Iowa’s workforce. These graduates live in every corner of the state and utilize their education to succeed in every field imaginable. Here are two such graduates and their stories:

Phil Pitzenberger, Bachelor of Arts, Iowa State (Agricultural Education), 2001
Phil, a lifelong Iowan, chose to return to his family farm in rural Butler County after earning a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from Iowa State. Running a 3,400 acre farm takes a lot of first-hand knowledge, something Phil says he got in equal parts from his family and from Iowa State.

“The connections I made and the experiences I had at Iowa State made me a much better farm operator than I would have been had I not gotten my degree,” He said.

Phil’s farm career began well before he left Ames. He rented 120 acres as a junior at Iowa State and was actively farming while going to school. This season will be his 20th year in the field. During all those years, he never once thought of leaving his home state.

“I had a pretty clear career path since early childhood,” Phil said. “I wanted to go to Iowa State, then come home and work on the family farm. I stay in Iowa because of a strong sense of pride in our state and the area where I grew up. Looking back, I can’t recall any time where I thought I would leave Iowa, even if I wasn’t farming.”

In addition to working the family farm, Phil is a seed representative for Wyffels Hybrids and owns and operates a custom spraying business with his younger brother. He also has been active with the ISU Butler County Extension Council for the past four years. As part of the ISU Extension, Phil helps with outreach programs for farmers, allowing local residents access to Iowa State research and resources.

In the end, Phil feels a sense of pride in his home state and counts himself lucky to be able to do what he does, where he does it.

“There is sentimental value to being here,” Phil said. “I am blessed to be able to work with the best soil in the world.”

Stacey Schmiederer, Bachelor of Arts, University of Iowa (Education), 2012
Stacey, originally from Prospect Heights, Illinois, is a teacher at Pleasant Valley in Bettendorf. Stacey chose to attend the University of Iowa after feeling at home during a visit.

“I wanted to go to a Big 10 school,” Stacey said. “When I visited Iowa, I knew it was the school for me. Choosing the university brought me to Iowa, and I haven’t left since.”
Stacey took science classes as an undergraduate, but always enjoyed tutoring and helping her siblings with their homework when she was in high school. She decided to combine the two and enrolled in the college of education to become a science teacher.

“As I spent time observing and working in classrooms, I knew it was the perfect fit,” she said. “I enjoy engaging students in science and helping them to reach their fullest potential in school and life.”

Stacey stays in her adopted state because of all the contacts she has made and experiences she has had in Eastern Iowa. Iowa, she says, is a great place for educators.

“Iowa has very high regards for education and educators,” she said. “Through my experience at the University of Iowa and in the districts I’ve taught for, students really are the priority.”

Stacey currently teaches seventh grade at Pleasant Valley Junior High and coaches volleyball. Her passion for education is right at home in the Hawkeye State.
“I love teaching in Iowa,” Stacey said. “So I’ll be around for a while.”