Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cyclone radar this week:

1) Isaiah Keller, a kindergartener at Perkins Elementary in Des Moines, was a Twitter sensation last week after his homework assignment on “How to Make a Slam Dunk Like Melvin Ejim” was shared online. In it, Isaiah imparts such nuggets of wisdom as “make sure you have a basketball hoop” and “jump up.” And yes, Melvin retweeted this on his feed. So looks like Isaiah had it pretty much right.



Kate Arends — image via Wit & Delight dot com.

2) We told you in ISU News Flash and on social media a couple of weeks ago that ISU alumna Kate Arends (’06 graphic design) has been selected by Target to design a collection of party supplies. Why did she get this gig? Because she has more than 2.6 million followers on Pinterest, that’s why. What we didn’t tell you was that, just a few days before Target announced its partnership with these Pinterest prodigies, VISIONS editor Carole Gieseke and photographer Jim Heemstra were in Minneapolis doing a story on Kate. They didn’t even know about the Target partnership until they got there, as Kate was already newsworthy enough given her blogging and Pinterest success. Jim photographed Kate in her pajamas — something she’s often wearing while she works on her blog Wit & Delight in the evening hours after a hard day’s graphic design work. Next month, however, the newlywed is taking a plunge and “going full-time Wit & Delight.” To wit, we’re delighted.

Watch for more on Kate in a forthcoming issue of VISIONS magazine…and keep an eye out for her stuff at Target. For the record, this won’t be the first time Kate has been featured in VISIONS. As an Irish-dancing student, she was one of the “20 most intriguing people on campus” in our spring 2006 issue. And her father, John Arends ’77, has been featured in VISIONS and on the VISIONS Across America blog as the writer of the original screenplay Trice.

3) The ISU Letterwinners Club announced its 2014 Hall of Fame class on Friday. The six-member class features the first of what is likely to be several Bill Fennelly-era women’s basketball players: Jayme Olson, an All-American who led the Cyclones to their first NCAA tournament appearance (1997) and win (1998). Also included will be a College Football Hall of Famer and national football coach of the year: John Cooper, who was a member of ISU’s “Dirty Thirty,” went on to win nine league titles as a head football coach at Tulsa, Arizona State, and Ohio State. The class will be inducted in a special ceremony on Sept. 5 at the ISU Alumni Center.

4) George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” is currently playing in theaters, but did you know there is an Iowa State connection to the real-life story of these World War II-era art rescuers? The Des Moines Register‘s Michael Morain last week brought us the story of Bonaparte, Iowa, native Gladys Hamlin. Hamlin was an ISU art history professor during WWII who helped write the 1944 how-to guide that was provided to the “Monuments Men.”

5) February looks sort of brown and white outside in Ames, but it’s definitely the “greenest” month on campus. The fifth annual Symposium on Sustainability will be held tomorrow in the Memorial Union. The afternoon events can be viewed remotely, or come to campus tonight for best-selling author Alan Weisman’s lecture, “Our last best hope?” to learn about the impact of overpopulation and tomorrow night for Des Moines mayor Frank Cownie’s presentation on “Climate Preparedness and Resilient Cities: What it Means in Iowa.”

livegreen-rankinIowa State has always been among the nation’s leaders in campus sustainability, as director of sustainability Merry Rankin (you may remember this picture of her hugging a tree that appeared in the fall 2010 issue of VISIONS) has been working since 2009 to promote initiatives for students, departments, and facilities on campus. “Going green has been called a lot of things,” Rankin told VISIONS in that 2010 interview. “Sustainability is so much larger than that. It’s also economic sustainability and taking care of your communities.”

Catching up: With a Dance Marathoner

ImageErin Curtis (’10 kinesiology) has a strong passion for Iowa State University – and for her favorite ISU student activity: Dance Marathon, the 15-hour standing marathon that raises funds and awareness for the Children’s Miracle Network held every January on campus. Today Erin works in St. Louis, Mo., for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as the national coordinator of Dance Marathon – a dream job she says she’d never have without her experiences at Iowa State. Young Alumni News recently caught up with Erin to find out a little more about her ISU experience.

How did Iowa State help to lead you to where you are now?
I LOVED every second of my time at Iowa State. I have a hard time going into the ISU Bookstore without spending too much money, wear the same pair of red and gold overalls for ISU athletic events that I got as a freshman in college, and still carry around the Iowa State bucket list I made (and checked off most items from) as a student. Iowa State is the sole reason I am doing what I am doing today, no doubt. As a freshman at ISU, I participated in Dance Marathon and was hooked two seconds after it began. I knew I wanted to be involved with ISUDM. Over the next four years, I was on a committee three times and on the executive board my super-senior year (I graduated one semester late). Although I was involved with a plethora of leadership activities during college, none meant more to me than Dance Marathon. Dance Marathon and ISU gave me an identity and a family of friends that are still extremely near and dear to my heart.

curtis1After I graduated, I wasn’t quite sure what path my life was going to take. After a few months in a draining job about which I was not passionate, I found out that Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the national organization that benefits from Dance Marathon programs, was hiring for a brand new job as a DM manager. Of course, I applied. A few months later, I was offered the job. Without my experience and deep love for ISU Dance Marathon, I would have never pursued or been offered my current job. I don’t think I can ever give back enough to DM or ISU for that.

Dance Marathon was just that eye-opener that really made me realize how much I have a passion to serve. Even though my career path will probably change, I know I need something that allows me human interaction and a chance to work for the greater good. I want to continue to work with the children and hospitals I have developed such a connection with via Dance Marathon.

How do you “live” Iowa State in your everyday life?
Iowa State’s commercial slogan is “Choose Your Adventure.” I think that is the perfect description of how I “live” ISU every day. Between frequent travel for work, meeting and interacting with individuals from every walk of life, collecting and sending postcards from every travel destination I visit, and continuing to pursue new career paths, I think I am still in the process of continuing the adventure I started at Iowa State. I just really, really, really love this university and forever will.

How has being an alumna of Iowa State helped you to connect with others?
Since I don’t live in Cyclone country, I get REALLY excited when I see someone in ISU apparel and always shout, “GO STATE” to anyone wearing anything Cyclone. Being of an alum of ISU is definitely a source of pride. Our university is one that is very highly respected, and I love telling anyone who asks about my experience there. Also, you’d be surprised how many comments I get when wearing ISU stuff.

What is your favorite Iowa State memory?
How do I pick just one!? Football games, my roommates who turned into sisters, Clone Cones, walks to class on gorgeous fall or spring days, tacos at Es Tas…everything about ISU is my favorite memory. In 2010, I was chosen as the Cardinal Court Homecoming Queen and got to stand on the sidelines for the Homecoming football game. Everything about that Homecoming queen honor was very special to me. The memory that sticks out the most is probably my senior year Dance Marathon. Everything about that day was just unforgettable for me. Having my parents see a DM for the first time, seeing my little brother participate as an ISU freshman, and being on an executive team with people I absolutely cherish are very fond memories from that DM. Nothing may ever feel as great as watching our total reveal be raised…$264,290.14 raised by ISU students for University of Iowa Children’s Hospital and CMN Hospitals…unbelievable. That total has only increased since my last event as a student in 2011.

Catching up: With a full-cycle philanthropist

katherin2Emily Katherin (’12 advertising and art & design) is originally from Omaha, Neb., and currently lives in Seattle, Wash., where she serve as the advocacy programs manager at Cascade Bicycle Club – the country’s largest bicycling non-profit. When she’s not at work, she says, she’s exploring the Pacific Northwest, gardening in her alleyway, teaching herself how to cook, bicycling to new breweries, and cheering on the Seattle Sounders. Young Alumni News recently caught up with Emily to find out more about how she pedaled her way into a career that involves helping others.

How did Iowa State help lead you to where you are now?
My freshman year at Iowa State I was reintroduced to the bicycle by some classmates in a design class. After falling in love with the beautiful trails, parks, and farmland that surround our campus, I decided to earn a crash course in bicycle touring on RAGBRAI.

After completing my first RAGBRAI, I decided to take touring to the next level with a cross-country bicycling trip to raise money and awareness for affordable housing. The people I met while at Iowa State not only encouraged me, but helped me achieve my goals. Every single one of my professors junior year helped contribute to my affordable housing fund before I set off on my 4,000-mile journey.

I am now working at the country’s largest bicycling nonprofit and serving a new community and focused on creating vibrant, safe, happy and katherin1healthy communities. Iowa State taught me that, if you do what you are passionate about, you will always be successful.

How do you “live Iowa State” in your everyday life?
Professionally, I “live Iowa State” with how I treat others and my personal business philosophy. I believe that the key to success, regardless of your area of work, is building and maintaining strong relationships. I learned this at Iowa State with the way I was treated by my peers, faculty, and staff.

How has being an alumna of Iowa State helped you connect with others?
Even though I’m 2,000 miles away from Ames, I’ve managed to build a strong network of other alumni in the Puget Sound Region. We now get together for happy hours and talk about the exciting things we’ve discovered out west!

How did your experience at Iowa State help to lead you into a field dedicated to service and philanthropy?
The extracurricular opportunities that were offered to me at Iowa State lea me to a path of service and philanthropy. I was encouraged to learn outside the classroom through clubs, service work, and taking on leadership roles.

What is your favorite Iowa State memory?
My favorite memories are times I spent walking and bicycling around campus on beautiful fall days. I feel incredibly fortunate having gone to a university that took so much pride in its campus. I was also a member of ISU’s Gaffer’s Guild and have great memories of being in the hot studio on cold winter days learning the art of glassblowing.

Catching up: With a sports agent who has Olympic ties

ImageEmily Hejlik (’12 journalism & communication studies) is a West Des Moines native and Cyclone women’s soccer letterwinner who currently works as the marketing manager for the Olympics and Actions Sports division at Octagon, one of the largest global sports, entertainment, lifestyle marketing and talent representation agencies in the U.S. During her internship with Octagon in 2012, Hejlik worked with Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman. She continues her association with Olympic athletes today as a full-time Octagon employee. The Young Alumni Council recently caught up with Hejlik to find out a little more about how Iowa State led her to this interesting career.

Tell us a little more about yourself.
I’m from West Des Moines and graduated from good ol’ Valley High School. I played soccer and was a two-year captain at Iowa State, wrote for the Iowa State Daily, and frequented the gyro stand on Welch Ave. I’m a wicked (Boston accent included) Boston sports fan, foodie, and am way too competitive.

How did Iowa State help lead you to where you are now?
Iowa State is instrumental to where I’m at in my career today, in particular, the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication and people like Michael Bugeja and Kim McDonough. I was a Scripps Howard scholarship recipient the summer going into my last year at Iowa State, which allowed me to do an internship with Comcast SportsNet New England. Through my internship, I worked with Olympic gymnast and Boston native Aly Raisman, who was represented by Octagon. The professors, coaches, and athletic department at Iowa State are second to none, and really go out of their way to help you succeed. Working for the Iowa State Daily also gave me invaluable experience and applicable skills to my everyday work.

How do you “live” Iowa State in your everyday life?
I live Iowa State every day first by currently bragging about the success of our men’s basketball team and how there is nothing that beats Hilton Magic! Being an Iowa State alum really gives me pride to say I’m a Cyclone. You feel a responsibility to always do things the right way, whether that be working hard, being kind, or helping someone in need.

How has being an alumna of Iowa State helped you connect with others?
Saying you’re a graduate of Iowa State definitely gives you an edge in the “real world.” It gives you immediate credibility when networking, and you quickly see how many alumni are working at successful companies. Having Iowa State on your resume alone sets you apart from the rest.

How did your experience at Iowa State help lead you into your role with athletes and the Olympics?
Since I was young, and a huge tomboy, I always knew I wanted to work in sports. I used to think I would someday play in the NBA, seriously. The university and women’s soccer program gave me the tools necessary to succeed in a very competitive industry. Playing collegiate soccer at the Division I level and working within a team that is striving toward a common goal taught me so much. You’re faced with adversity on a daily basis and quickly learn that you need to be at your best and give 100 percent in everything you do, whether that be in practice, the weight room, or in the classroom. Otherwise, someone else will. This mentality and lessons I’ve learned while at Iowa State prepared me to work with Olympic athletes and in the crazy world of sports marketing. These intangibles are proving to be extremely useful, especially right now as we have many athletes competing in Sochi and need to capitalize on the Olympic buzz and their marketability.

What is your favorite Iowa State memory?
There are too many favorite memories to name just one, but all of them involved my teammates — most likely one of our infamous theme parties!

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cyclone radar this week:

1)    If you’re not following new Cyclone offensive coordinator Mark Mangino on Twitter yet, you probably should be. The dude packs some serious motivation into 140 characters. Heck, his handle is “KeepSawinWood.” That alone should get you fired up, not just for the 2014 Cyclone football season, but for your morning staff meeting!


2)    Author and social critic Os Guinness is speaking tonight in the Memorial Union Great Hall. The great-grandson of Arthur Guinness the beer guy, he has born in China during World War II, educated in Britain, and has now written 38 books. His latest is “The Global Public Square,” which champions freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. He’ll be talking about religious freedom in tonight’s lecture, which starts at 7 p.m.

On top of being a noted scholar, Guinness has a fascinating life story. His grandparents were medical missionaries, and he lived in China until his family was expelled under Mao’s reign of terror in 1951. He is a survivor of the Henan famine of 1943, which killed 5 million people in three months, including his two brothers. You can meet him tonight on campus. Just one of many awesome  opportunities provided by the ISU Lectures Program.

3)    February is Black History Month. Don’t forget that Iowa State is the only FBS school in the country that has a football stadium named after a black athlete or coach — Jack Trice. Carver Hall on our campus is also named after a rather prominent alumnus, too.

4)    This idea of “professors living in poverty” has gotten quite a bit of attention in the media lately. The idea is that, in order to cut budgets, universities are hiring mostly adjunct faculty to avoid paying benefits. But Iowa State has maintained a healthy commitment to its faculty. There’s still quite a bit of buzz on campus about the Feb. 7 Des Moines Register coverage of Iowa State’s rather awesome distinction as the only U.S. university to both increase faculty and make cuts in other areas.  It’s a great point of pride for ISU, and a few days later it was pretty cool to see a photo of Birch-Welch-Roberts pasted on’s education blog under the headline “Doing Higher Ed Right.”

“I hope every university in the country looks to Iowa State’s…shining example,” Rebecca Schuman writes, “and realizes that not only will nobody die if we defund public education, but that tuition doesn’t actually have to skyrocket if one deigns to pay professors a living wage.”


5)    Ever wanted to know what goes into a Jim Heemstra VISIONS magazine photo shoot? We’ve got you covered. In fact, we’ll do you one better. We are currently counting down to the big opening of the art exhibit VISIONS Across America: Portraits of Iowa State Alumni by Jim Heemstra, which will be open in the Brunnier Art Museum April 3-Aug. 9. (Opening reception April 4 – please come!) If you follow the ISUAA on Facebook, we’ll be providing FIFTY-ONE(!) behind-the-scenes tidbits from the most ambitious VISIONS magazine project ever. (It goes a little past “story” status when you travel 30,000 miles in rental cars and talk to 129 different alumni.) We’ll be giving you some of the details you won’t see in the magazine (special issue coming in March) and art exhibit. Think of it as VISIONS Across America – unfiltered.

Grow Where You are Planted

Mick Guttau’s community-focused bank has become much more than a financial institution


Mick Guttau learned one simple message while flying Cobra attack helicopters in Vietnam: “The troops come first.”

“If my wingman isn’t with me 110 percent, I’m dead,” Mick said. “That’s why it’s so important for him to know how important he is to me.”

“It’s just as true in a family or business environment as it is in the military,” he said. More than four decades later, Mick continues to apply that philosophy as chairman and CEO of Treynor State Bank in Treynor, Iowa. What-ever his “troops” are – his employees, his clients, or the community – they come first.

Thanks to Mick’s dedication to his “troops” – as well as careful planning and ethical banking practices – TS Bank thrived through the recent financial crisis, setting itself apart from other banks. Today, while much of the nation is still recovering, TS Bank is growing.

Survival skills
Mick grew up in Treynor – an agriculture-based community located 20 miles from Omaha, Neb., with a population of 1,000.    

Wanting to study agriculture, Mick attended Iowa State. He held leadership positions in Theta Delta Chi fraternity, ROTC, and Pep Council, and was even Cy.

Mick says the best thing that happened to him at Iowa State was meeting his wife, Judy (Frazier) Guttau (L)(’68 home ec. ed.). He was in love by their third date, and they married in 1968.

After graduating, Mick (L)(’68 farm operations) went to flight school and served one year in Vietnam, earning numerous awards including two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

When Mick returned home, he and Judy moved back to Treynor. They lived in a trailer house while he worked at TS Bank. Mick’s dream was to farm, but he continued to hit brick walls trying to acquire land.

Frustrated – and bored working at the bank – Mick finally decided to leave for a job in Omaha.

His boss, the owner of TS Bank, had another idea: “Just buy the bank.

After prayer and discussion with Judy, Mick finally agreed.

Despite the fact that he “hated banking” and “couldn’t stand being inside,” Mick says he realized what he truly wanted was to call the shots, take risks, and be in control – qualities he had in Vietnam and that appealed to him in farming.

“And I thought, I can do that in the bank,” Mick said.

His parents refinanced the family farm to help fund the purchase and in 1978, at the age of 31, Mick became the owner and president of the one-location, $8 million-assets community bank.

“I always say it’s because I didn’t know any better,” Mick said. “But it also took some courage.”

Soon after, the 1980s farm crisis hit. Already heavily loaned up and in debt, TS Bank was nearly destroyed. When the two nearest community banks closed, everyone was, according to Mick, “waiting for the new kid on the block to close, too.”

Mick still considers the farm crisis to be TS Bank’s biggest threat in his 35 years as owner. He credits the bank’s survival to community support.

“When we had difficult situations with farm families, those families worked with us to get through it in the best way possible,” Mick said.

TS Bank had only one bankruptcy during that time – a young man who walked into Mick’s office years later and apologized.

“He said, ‘I should have listened to you,’” Mick said. “And we’re friends to this day.”

As TS Bank grew, it quickly became a Guttau family business. Judy began marketing the bank and is now director of community reinvestment and secretary of the board. Their daughter, Heidi Guttau-Fox, an attorney, is on the board of directors. And their son, Joshua Guttau (L)(’99 animal science, MBA ’01), joined the staff in 2003 and assumed the role of president and CFO in 2007.

TS Bank expanded to include four branches and 75 employees. Recently, the bank earned recognition as a top workplace in Iowa for small businesses.

Through the decades, Mick says he never considered selling the bank. “I’ve had a lot of offers,” he said. “Not many lately, because I think people are aware that we’re committed and we’re growing.”

Historic opportunities
In 2007-08, the United States experienced an economic decline that led to the worst recession since the Great Depression. At the core of the crisis were the nation’s banks.

TS Bank was an exception – managing to not only avoid the financial crisis but to actually profit from it.

About two years before the crisis hit, the senior staff at TS Bank felt a recession heading toward them. They began to position the bank, relying on the experience of Mick and others who endured the farm crisis.

“They never changed their credit standards; they always held good-quality lending practices,” Josh said.

While other banks nationwide were “loosening the ropes” and giving risky loans, Mick refused to accept credit scores less than 660.

“We’d hear people say ‘you’re outdated’ or ‘you’re missing the boat,’” Josh said. “And 12 months later is when everything blew up and proved that the ‘old geezer’ was right.”

For Mick, it was about protecting the bank as well as protecting the clients.

“If it’s not a sound financial decision and a solid loan, it’s really not good for the community or for the borrower,” Mick said. “You’re doing a disservice by making them a loan that they shouldn’t have.”

He says they ensure that there’s enough cash flow and income being generated to service the debt, so their clients are never forced to sell the family farm or business.

“We never moved anybody off their farm,” said Mick, whose still lives on his own 135-year-old family farm. “My objective was to keep those people in their homes.”

Mick also wanted to protect the community.

“If [families] sell out, then they would likely move somewhere else, then we’d lose them in the community,” he said. “So the school, the churches, and the retailers start losing that family’s business.”

Mick and Josh didn’t dodge the financial crisis simply by avoiding risks, however. In fact, they sought out new opportunities.

“If you don’t take risks in a bank, you don’t make money,” Josh said. TS Bank just picked “different types of risks” within the bank.

Josh says most community bank presidents get their start as loan officers, so they tend to focus on lending. Josh’s experience, however, came from the trust department at First National Bank.

“I’m more interested in capital markets,” he said. So while other banks were putting their deposits back into loans, TS Bank was looking into investments.

“We made the bond portfolio a second focus of our bank,” Mick said. “So we have the loans; we have the bonds. We look at both of them in great detail and analyze them.”

Josh says this gave the bank a “second arm to the business,” instead of simply generating loans.

“It’s not just traditional banking,” Josh said. “It’s risk management; it’s finance management.”

When Lehman Brothers failed in September 2008 and the financial markets exploded, TS Bank was able to reposition
its balance sheet to capture what Josh calls “historic opportunities in the bond markets.”

“We had prepared,” Josh said. “Other banks didn’t take advantage of it because they didn’t have the systems in place to
identify the opportunity and manage it in an appropriate way.”

Those opportunities generated profits for TS Bank, which were put back into technology, employees, and facilities for the bank.

Mick and Josh don’t take all the credit for TS Bank’s success during the crisis. Neighboring Omaha had one of the most stable economies in the nation during the recession, which gave TS Bank an advantage. Josh says if they had implemented their same philosophy in a different city, the bank could have failed.

“So some of it is definitely geography or luck,” Josh said.

Mick adds that the majority of nearby banks are also doing “OK.”

“It’s just that there were opportunities offered in the financial crisis that we capitalized on,” Mick said. “We did better than OK.”

Community First
Today, TS Bank’s success is reflected on Treynor. The bank has become a central part of the community, reinvesting a great portion of its profits into local programs and organizations.

After Josh became president, he met Mick and Judy for lunch one day. While discussing how much of the bank’s profits should be given back to the community, they each wrote numbers on their napkins. When they flipped the napkins over, they had all written the same amount: 10 percent.

Each year since then, TS Bank has dedicated 10 percent of its pre-tax profits to community reinvestment and charitable donations.

One program TS Bank has funded is a K-12 financial literacy program for the Treynor school district. Students learn about investing, credit, loans, entrepreneurship, and more. Elementary students even have an in-school bank to deposit money for savings.

Another project TS Bank is helping sponsor is the new Treynor Family Recreational Complex, which will feature baseball and softball diamonds, soccer fields, and a pool.

“There are a lot of businesses out there that extract from the community,” Josh said. “I would hope that people look at our bank and just know that we’re going to support the community.”

The Guttaus are involved outside the bank, too. Mick and Judy both participate in their church, local groups, and community boards. Mick has served on the ISU Alumni Association Board of Directors and as the superintendent of banking for the state of Iowa, and he is currently on the ISU Athletics Council. He still enjoys flying, and he has five tractors on his 80-acre farm, which is located within a few miles of their children and grandchildren.

Mick has no plans to retire any time soon. As long as he’s able, he wants to continue to be involved and work to develop the bank and community.

“This is our hobby,” Josh said.

The past 35 years – buying the bank at age 31, surviving the farm crisis, and then thriving through the financial crisis – has been
“a great education,” Mick says.

“It’s just been a continuous challenge.”

Article by Kayla Schantz Choate, a 2012 ISU graduate with a degree in journalism and mass communication, international studies, and Spanish. Choate lives in Des Moines and works as a freelance journalist.

Masters of Creativity: Grotto of the Redemption


Air cools in the built caves,
stones releasing breath

of salt and sea on Italian statues –
infant Jesus, Adam and Eve,

Moses clutching twin slabs
against his ribs. In gardens

of moonstone, seaglass,
stalactite plucked like fruit

from distant caverns, arches
and cupolas studded with stars,

I imagine the weight of trains
bearing these stones in 1912,

veins of jewel ripped from earth,
scrubbed clean until the priest’s hands

cracked and bled, each splinter
of rock – white shell, raw amethyst,

petrified wood – collaged
with sand in nine linked shrines,

rising without blueprints
from a sea floor older than prayer.

ImageAbout the writer:
Sarah Burke recently earned her MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University and now lives in Pittsburgh. Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Copper Nickel, Fourteen Hills, Midwestern Gothic, Passages North, and other journals.


ImageAbout the artist:
Nick Friess, a former Green Beret medic, was wounded in March 1970 in Vietnam. He is a lifelong artist currently exploring the relationship between traditional and digital art forms as a graduate student at ISU. Nick has also been a farmer for 25 years.