Catering Spotlight: Valentino’s

angelaCheck out some great event-planning tips from our ISU Alumni Center team. This piece was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit

Over the next several weeks, we will be putting each of our approved caterers in the “spotlight” and giving them a chance to answer a few questions about their food, beverages, and services. This week we are putting Valentino’s in the catering spotlight. Who’s hungry for pizza?

  1. Who or what influences your catering?

Our catering goal is always to provide exceptional service, fresh food, and plenty of it. We always overestimate your numbers and bring more food than we need so we don’t run out.

  1. What sets your catering business apart from others in the industry?

A personal touch and the ability to truly cater to your needs (we do far more than pizza and pasta! We can do a carving station, full breakfast or brunch cater, box lunches, baked chicken dinner, mashed potatoes and sides, desserts and more).

  1. What is one thing most people do not know about your business?

side-image-foodMost people don’t know that 99% of the items on our menu are made from scratch…including our pizza dough that is made by hand. We use 100% real cheese and make all of our sauces and other buffet items ourselves. This is unusual in the pizza industry. We could cut our food costs by using pre-made items but we won’t.

  1. What is your chef’s favorite entrée to make?

Our incredible cherry dessert pizza….it’s addictive!

  1. What is your most popular menu item?

It’s a toss-up between our Mac & Cheese pizza and our Bacon Cheeseburger pizza. Both are unique and so delicious!

For more information about ISU Alumni Center approved caterers click here.

Urban Chickens


Henpecked city dwellers dote on their backyard broods
By Carole Gieseke

Originally published in the spring 2015 issue of VISIONS

Ed Moran is cleaning chicken poop off of his back patio, a space he power-washed less than an hour ago.

“Welcome to the world of urban chickens,” he says, laughing. Moran (’99 horticulture) is part of a growing trend of city dwellers who keep a small flock of laying hens in their backyards.

“I keep tabs on the website,” says Christa Hartsook (A) (’98 Jlmc), a small-farms specialist for ISU Extension and Outreach. “In 2007 they started a small forum with 50 members. Three years later they were up to 50,000 members. Today’s membership is more than 300,000.”

Moran fell into chicken ownership quite by accident: The home he bought in a quiet Ames neighborhood had a small chicken operation in the backyard.

“I inherited chickens with the house,” he said. “It never crossed my mind to do this before.”

But Moran, like so many others, has embraced his backyard brood. Urban chicken enthusiasts build elaborate chicken habitats, obsess over the best mix of feed, debate chicken breeds, and celebrate the fresh, daily eggs they collect right outside their back doors. Motivation for starting a backyard flock can vary.

“Chickens represent a safe and small enterprise for people to begin in a backyard,” says Hartsook, who raises poultry herself. “Chickens don’t require large amounts of
space, are inexpensive, and are family friendly.”

Last spring, Amy Feller (L)(’97 transportation & logistics / German) got four chickens
as a gift for her birthday. “I’ve always wanted chickens,” she said. “I have at least 10 friends who have chickens.” Feller keeps the hens in a coop in her yard in New Braunfels, Texas, not far from San Antonio.

Torey Looft (PhD ’12 microbiology) and his wife, Sandra, an academic adviser in ISU’s
World Languages and Cultures Department, wanted their two young children to see where food comes from.

“My grandparents had chickens, and I loved the baby chicks,” Sandra said. “I wanted to recreate that for my kids.”

Before embarking on their chicken project, the Loofts watched a documentary about urban chickens at Wheatsfield, a local food co-op in Ames. That made it more real – and exciting.

They bought a chicken coop crafted by Iowa State architectural design students, one of 20 sold at an auction in fall 2013 as part of a student design-build project. The structures had to meet the specific needs of chickens: space to live and space to range, a place to rest and a place to lay eggs, shade from the sun and shelter from the cold.


The heritage-breed hens in the Loofts’ backyard – the speckled Ameraucana, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, and New Hampshire Red – lay five or six eggs each day, enough to provide eggs for the family – with some to spare.

“We give the eggs as peace offerings to our neighbors, for having the chickens,” Torey

“It’s been a great way to meet my neighbors,” Moran agreed. “If I need anything, I can always give them a dozen eggs. There’s that community aspect.”

Carole Gieseke is the editor of VISIONS.


How to raise backyard chickens
By Andy Larson

What’s the first thing I should do before deciding to raise backyard chickens?
First, see if it’s legal. As the level of interest in raising backyard poultry continues to rise, more and more municipalities are either enforcing old ordinances pertaining to the keeping of “livestock” within city limits, or drafting new ordinances. You may need to apply for a permit. Second, in the interest of keeping the peace in the neighborhood, it would be worth talking to close neighbors about your idea of getting backyard chickens.

What are the main benefits of raising backyard chickens?
The eggs! They’re delicious and nutritious, you know where they came from and how the birds were treated, and they make great gifts for the neighbors who are tolerating your chicken habit! A close second would be the companionship and learning opportunities for your family, especially the kids. They get to learn how to raise a pet up from a baby (or even an egg!), the daily routine of chores and egg-gathering, and how to cook with food they have raised themselves.

How much initial financial investment should I expect?
At the most basic, adult chickens need a feeder, a waterer, and a decent coop with nest box and roost. A good gravity feeder with a grill on the trough (to prevent wasted feed) will probably run you $25. A waterer with a heating element in the base (to keep your water from freezing in winter) will probably cost you $35-40. Then you need to buy the feed itself, which will probably run $12-15 per 50-lb bag at the local farm supply store.

The chicks themselves only cost a couple bucks apiece, but if you are going to brood day-old chicks (which most people do) you are going to need a chick feeder, a no-drown waterer, and a heat lamp with a red bulb to keep those little fluff balls at 90+ degrees Fahrenheit for the first couple of weeks. None of these things are too pricey, probably $4-7 each.

All told, if you already have a big doghouse or small garden shed that you can retrofit into a coop, you can start out in the chicken business for $100. However, many do-it yourselfers do tend to spend much more.

How much time will I need to spend each day tending to the flock?
It’s literally only minutes a day: five to seven minutes in the morning to open the chicken door and give a little feed and water, another five to 10 minutes over lunch or after work to gather the day’s eggs and watch the birds for a minute to make sure everyone looks happy and healthy, and finally a minute or two at night to close the door to the coop and keep the girls safe from predators. Add in a coop controller to open and close the door, and your daily time investment is even lower.

However, there will be days when things take more time, like when you have to scoop the dirty litter out of the coop and into the compost pile, replacing it with fresh shavings. Or if one of the girls is acting unhealthy and you have to diagnose the illness.

Is there a downside to raising backyard chickens?
Sure. It’s really hard to lose one (or all) of your chickens, whether it’s due to predators, disease, or simply that your birds eventually get too old to lay productively and you can’t justify the cost of keeping them around. The other downside to backyard chickens
is that they limit your ability to leave for extended periods of time, because they need daily attention. Keep your neighbors happy, and they may be willing to chicken-sit.

Will the chickens become pets? Is it OK to name them?
My personal rule is to never name my chickens because a chicken with a name crosses the line from livestock to pet, and it just makes end-of-life issues that much harder. But there are many chickens with names out there, which is fine if your primary purpose of keeping them is to have additional pets. Just remember that dogs and cats tend to be on a different plane than chickens; it’s hard to find poultry vets, and you’re probably not going to go to the same financial and emotional lengths to save a chicken as you would a dog. As such, you and your family have to be prepared to experience the death of a chicken.

How long do the chickens live? How long will they lay eggs? What happens to them after they stop laying?
Chickens are likely to be very efficient producers of good-quality eggs for their first couple of laying cycles. After that, the eggs starting getting fewer and further between, with reduced quality, until laying tapers off altogether. A chicken can still live well beyond active laying, but you have to value them for either their manure or their companionship in order to justify keeping them around. Otherwise, it’s time to pull out your favorite recipe for chicken soup.

Where do I buy the baby chicks? How old will the chickens be before they start laying eggs?
Buy your chicks from a reputable hatchery that carries the breed(s) of chicken you want, will vaccinate your chicks before they ship, and is willing to answer your questions when you need an expert to troubleshoot. Your birds are going to be five to six months old, depending on the breed, before they lay their first eggs.

How do I determine which breed to choose?
If your goal is to have maximum feed efficient egg production, you are probably going to be looking at one of the hybrid breeds, like Red Stars or Black Stars, or at one of the more productive heritage breeds, like the Rhode Island Red. Many hobby producers choose dual-purpose breeds that can be good for both eggs and meat – Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Australorps, etc. Some people really love chickens that have beautiful coloration or rare characteristics, and they often choose a showy variety which might include Polish with their tufted heads, Cochins with their feathered feet, Frizzles with their almost curly feathers, or Araucanas with their funny beards and blue-green eggs If you live in the Midwest, you are going to want chickens that can tolerate both extreme heat and severe cold.

What should I feed my chickens?
Chickens tend to perform best on a premixed complete feed ration from a feed supplier or farm store. These are primarily comprised of corn and soybeans as well as specific vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that chickens need to be healthy and high-performing. Chickens are omnivorous, and a backyard chicken producer can certainly give them unspoiled food scraps from the house as a treat, but it can’t be their whole diet.

What about the coop and the run? How big do these need to be – and how is the best way to approach building them?
It’s best to locate your coop in a place that is high and dry (think about water flow and ponding during heavy rains or snow melt), has a clear line of sight from your house, and is not right on your property line (just in case your neighbor is not as excited about your chickens as you are). Your chicken coop ought to have about two square feet of floor space per bird housed. You’ll also need around 14-16 inches of roost space per bird; a large wooden dowel like a closet rod, or a 2×4 ripped in half, work nicely as a roost.

You should have organic litter material in the coop – pine shavings are good – for cleanliness, dryness, and ease of cleaning. You should have one nest box for every 4-5 chickens. Nest boxes should be 12″x12″x12″ with a slanted roof to prevent roosting. Raise them off the floor but not higher than your roosts; have a bar for the birds to land on before they step in and a toe board to keep the bedding material in.

South-facing windows with an overhang are great for maximum light and also some passive warming in the winter. Coops can’t be drafty in the winter, but there has to be air exchange, so even if your windows don’t open, you’ll have to have vents to let fresh air in. Just make sure to cover all vent and window openings with hardware cloth to exclude predators; don’t use chicken wire because, despite the name, it tends not to be strong enough and the holes are too big. If you insulate your coop, make sure the insulation itself is covered over by some other building material because chickens love to eat insulation.

Will I save money on eggs by raising chickens?
Most people don’t. They spend too much on the coop and equipment, or they don’t factor in their costs of production, and the payback period to recoup their investment starts to get pretty long. At the backyard scale, saving on groceries should not be the primary motivation for keeping chickens.

How do I protect my chickens from predators?
You build your coop like Fort Knox, and you keep your chickens in there at night when the raccoons, opossums, coyotes, etc. tend to be the most active. Anything with sharp teeth and a backbone tends to be pretty interested in getting a taste of your flock. I don’t like to have openings bigger than a dime when my chicken coop is all closed up, and if I do I cover them with hardware cloth. Also, this is why I have splurged on automatic door closers that can be programmed to close the chicken door at night after they have come home to roost. You may even want to day-range your birds in a fenced-in chicken run. This probably doesn’t have to be as buttoned-down as your coop – materials like chicken wire or wildlife netting ought to suffice – but you’ll want to make the sides high enough to encourage the chickens to stay in and other beasties to stay out.

How many eggs should I expect per week?
Your best hybrid layer breeds, like the Red Stars and Black Stars, lay one egg every 25 hours or so, meaning that in an average week you can expect seven eggs from each chicken as long as they have adequate nutrition, good health, and minimal stress.

Can I keep my chickens outdoors during the winter? Will they continue to lay eggs during the winter?
Your chickens can certainly day-range outdoors during the winter, but I’d prefer to see them have an inside place, like a coop, to roost at night for protection from both the elements and predators. The coop doesn’t really have to be warm, but it should be above freezing, usually using heat lamps with red bulbs. You can buy thermostatically controlled electrical outlets that will turn your heat lamps on when the coop temperature falls below 35 degrees, and turn them off again when the temp goes above 45 degrees.

Also, chickens are very photoperiod sensitive and are naturally inclined to slow down laying as the days get shorter. If you want eggs consistently through the winter, it’s a good idea to provide supplemental light for a total of about 14 lighted hours per day. A compact fluorescent bulb on an outdoor timer inside the coop works great for this.

Andy, besides your terrific series of videos on YouTube that you made when you were with ISU Extension & Outreach, what are some other good resources for folks who are just starting out in the backyard chicken biz?
There are some good books on the basics of backyard chickens out there, including Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, and The Chicken
Whisperer’s Guide to Keeping Chickens, among others. There are also some periodicals that use authoritative authors, like Backyard Poultry Magazine. I like to get my information from university extension services because their material tends to be the most science-based and unbiased. The University of Maryland Extension has a great, concise publication called Raising Your Home Chicken Flock.

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention online forums, like Every backyard flock owner I know has been on here. User forums such as this tend to be a wealth of experience-based information from hobbyists and enthusiasts, but there is always the risk of bad information based on rumors or specific conditions that will not be relevant in your situation. Be a conscientious consumer of this type of information, and consider verifying its validity before betting the health and wellbeing of your flock on it.

backyardchickens_howtolarsonAndy Larson (MBA ’08) is a local food systems and small farms educator at the University of Illinois Extension. He formerly held a similar position with Iowa State Extension and Outreach. He and his wife, Kate (MA /08 science education) raise chickens and children in northern Illinois.

Watch Andy Larson’s “How to raise backyard chickens” video series at produced by ISU Extension & Outreach.

Wake up & Wed

angelaCheck out some great event tips from our ISU Alumni Center team. This piece was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit

The Alumni Center kicked off the spring wedding season this past weekend with a morning wedding. Let me share with you some reasons why I think morning weddings are the hidden gem in the realm of weddings.

Coffee. Need I say more? Who doesn’t love a big morning cup of coffee? And why not incorporate it into your special day? Not only can you have a delicious cup of coffee in your special wedding day mug while getting ready for your ceremony, but you can also have your caterer set up a full-service coffee bar at your ceremony or reception for all guests to enjoy.

pancakesBrunch. I love everything about brunch from the juice to the muffins, to the egg casserole, to the bacon, to the smoked salmon and bagels. Right now food stations are the trend, so having an omelet or waffle station is the perfect way to add fresh, made to order food items to the brunch menu.

Orange and tomato juice. With champagne and vodka, of course! Mimosas made from fresh squeezed orange juice are a delicious and sweet morning treat, and you can’t go wrong with a Bloody Mary bar. Don’t forget to include all the fixings like Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, pickle spears, celery stalks, salt, pepper, and lemons.

Lighting. Beautiful sunrises speak for themselves, especially if you are having an outdoor ceremony. Not to mention how incredibly romantic it is to get married in the morning light. Photographers appreciate the lighting and it gives way for amazing wedding photos.

Afternoon. After a morning wedding you have the ENTIRE rest of the day to spend with your new husband or wife! You can just hang out at the hotel or bed and breakfast and relive the beautiful ceremony, talk and laugh, or take a nap. You could take a stroll at the park and end up enjoying a delicious evening meal and glass of wine or two on the patio of your favorite restaurant. Or you could make final preparations for your honeymoon if you are leaving the next morning. And don’t forget about the fact that you have all afternoon to let the effects of your morning mimosas or Bloody Marys to wear off so you are ready to greet the next day as a happily married couple instead of a hung over married couple.

Now I can’t pretend everything about morning weddings is perfect or even better than evening weddings. Getting up before the sun rises is hard on a normal day let alone your wedding day. Feeling rushed because you only have the morning to get ready and not all day can add a lot of stress to some couple’s wedding day. If you are expecting to spend less on your wedding because you are having everything take place in the morning, think again. You will most likely spend the same or even more.

Morning or night, at the end of the day, you are marrying your best friend. Isn’t that all that really matters? Happy Planning!

One Thing

Here is one thing to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:


1) Unless you were living under a rock this weekend, we probably don’t need to remind you to put Cyclone basketball on your radar this week. March Madness is upon us, and the REPEAT Big 12 tournament champion ISU men’s basketball team (the comeback kids!) is headed to Louisville, Ky., Thursday as the South Region’s No. 3 seed in the 2015 NCAA tournament. The Cyclones will face UAB Thursday at 11:40 a.m. CT/12:40 p.m. ET; if they win, they will advance to play the winner of SMU/UCLA on Saturday for a shot at another Sweet 16 appearance.

Some interesting notes about Iowa State’s berth:

  • SMU is coached by the legendary former Kansas and NBA coach Larry Brown, who was Fred Hoiberg’s first coach in the pros. UCLA is coached by former University of Iowa head coach Steve Alford, so either way there will be an interesting third-round storyline if the Cyclones advance on Thursday.
  • All three of Iowa’s Regents institutions are dancing, and all of them have a top-7 berth. If the Hawkeyes pull an upset, there is even the potential for an ISU-Iowa Sweet 16 matchup in the South Region. Now, that would be a game for the ages.
  • While some may be upset that Iowa State didn’t jump Kansas (the No. 2 seed in the Midwest) in the rankings after defeating the Jayhawks in Saturday’s Big 12 championship game, the snub may actually be a blessing in disguise. Kansas was ranked eighth overall by the committee, ISU ninth. What does that mean? Kansas gets the toughest No. 2 seed (matched up in the same region with undefeated No. 1 Kentucky), and Iowa State’s potential matchups in the South look much more favorable — on paper, at least.

The ISU Alumni Association is busy planning events and potential travel opportunities for Cyclones fans. There will be no official travel package for Louisville, but stay tuned to for information about a potential trip to Houston next week if the Cyclones make the Sweet 16. There is also second and third round ticket information on the site. You can follow the “Contact” link on the website to request more information.

There will be a pep rally and team sendoff Thursday morning (9:40 a.m. CT/10:40 a.m. ET) at the Brown Hotel in Louisville. Stay tuned to our website at for the latest details as they become available.

The Cyclone women, who are on the bubble, will find out their NCAA tournament fate tonight at 6 p.m. Information about fan events for the women’s tourney will also be posted at when it becomes available.

Wedding Trends 2015

angelaCheck out some great event tips from our ISU Alumni Center team. This piece was written by Angela Horner, ISU Alumni Center Program Assistant. For more tips and assistance planning a special event at the ISU Alumni Center, call Angela, Lexi, or Brooke at (515) 294-4625 or visit

I love weddings and I love trends. Here are some of my favorite things combined for spring and summer!

  1. Food stations
  2. Mini Desserts
  3. Succulents
  4. Pastel bridesmaids’ dresses
  5. Nude, blush, or pink wedding gowns
  6. Gold accessories
  7. Edible favors
  8. Bouquet bling

My kind of (Campus)town

If there’s one thing to keep track of at Iowa State that’s has changed since you graduated – no matter how recently — look no further than Campustown.

“The Campustown Renaissance is exciting to watch,” says Kim Hanna, director of the Campustown Action Association. “Our new skyline along Lincoln Way continues to rise and you can really see now what the new buildings will look like. As new businesses arrive in our district this summer to enhance the amazing mixture of businesses already in the district, alumni will be shocked this fall when they come back for ISU games and see how their Campustown has changed.”

Check out the Campustown Action Association’s redevelopment Web page and “Campustown Reborn” from VISIONS magazine for details about the plans, but meanwhile Young Alumni News decided to ask some Iowa State young alumni about THEIR Campustown.

JILL MASCARELLO WANDERSCHEID (Life Member) (’04 community and regional planning) | Sioux City, Iowa

YAN: What is your favorite memory from Campustown during your time at ISU?
JMW: I think, overall, just hanging out with my friends and roommates at all of the places in Campustown. For me, my time at ISU really started and stopped with Campustown. It started with me walking to class through Campustown from Towers as a freshman and ended with our graduation party at “Big Shots.” So many great memories!

Have you made it back to Campustown as a young alum? If so, where did do you go and what was your experience like?
Yes, I have made it back quite a few times since I graduated. The APA-IA annual conferences was held in Ames a couple of years ago so I spent one of the evenings walking around Campus and Campustown. So much has changed but everything still “felt” the same. It was a great experience.

You currently work as a neighborhood services supervisor. As a trained city planner, why are revitalization and development important to a neighborhood?

Neighborhood development and planning are important to a neighborhood for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a neighborhood is struggling due to aged utilities, poor aesthetics, vacant storefronts, etc. A planner’s role would be to identify the issues and causes and develop a strategy / plan for future investment while pulling together various resources.

How do city planners make sure that a neighborhood’s unique sense of place is not compromised when a revitalization project is undertaken?
Great question! I think the key is engagement and education within the planning process. A focus should be placed on educating community members on why they should care about the project / planning process and how they can get involved. I think the most successful neighborhood projects we have undertaken in Sioux City have been successful because of the public input and community ownership of the project.

NICK HITSMAN (’07 finance/accounting) | Ankeny, Iowa

YAN: What was your favorite Campustown drinking establishment? What was your favorite drink?
NH: Peoples. I loved FAC, especially when Seindenfeld was on stage (Shot of Vodka!). My favorite drink was a Noble from Cy’s.

What was your favorite Campustown eating establishment? What was your favorite food?
Little Taipei – top-notch Chinese food at a good price. My favorite food item, though, was gyro at 2:15 a.m.

Is there anything that could have improved the vibe in Campustown while you attended ISU?
Maybe a stage outside for live music in the summertime.

If you could replicate your favorite Campustown establishment in your current city, what would it be?
People’s, for sure. I think it didn’t work in Des Moines because it was so large/open and didn’t have the homey atmosphere of the version in Ames. If you put the Peoples from college in Des Moines, I would definitely be there for happy hour!

KALEIGH (MARTENS) HITSMAN (’07 LSCM/marketing) | Ankeny, Iowa

YAN: What was your favorite Campustown drinking establishment? What was your favorite drink?
KH: Paddy’s or Club E (element) — two different atmospheres, but it was fun to see friends while they worked at Paddy’s. And it was really fun to go to element and have their pitcher drinks; I think they were $5 for any mixed drink. Seriously, this was out of a water pitcher! Always fun to go dancing, too.

Do you have a favorite memory from Campustown?
I remember junior and senior years I was really close with a group of LSCM majors and we always did projects together and then celebrated weekly on Thursdays at the bars on Welch.

Is there anything that could have improved the vibe in Campustown while you attended ISU?  

I don’t really think so. I loved the setup of Welch and being able to walk everywhere around campus to get things that were needed — food, drinks, post office, book store, dorms, classes, apartments.

If you could replicate your favorite Campustown establishment in your current city, what would it be?
Wallaby’s. I’m more of a restaurant person vs. a bar person now that we have a family!

DAVID LANGNER (’12 animal science) | Storm Lake, Iowa

YAN: What was your favorite Campustown drinking establishment? What was your favorite drink?
DL: Es Tas. Loaded Corona.

What was your favorite Campustown eating establishment? What was your favorite food?

Café Beaudelaire Burger with ham and beef.

Do you have a favorite memory from Campustown?
Beating Oklahoma State in Ames when they were highly ranked and celebrating in Campustown afterwards

If you could replicate your favorite Campustown establishment in your current city, what would it be?
We’d have a bar that plays Enya, does karaoke, and has top-shelf drink specials on Tuesdays.

NICOLE BURFORD (Annual Member) (’11 advertising) | Denver, Colo.

YAN: What was your favorite Campustown eating establishment? What was your favorite food?
NB:Es Tas. The cheese balls there are amazing — definitely something I miss since graduating!

Is there anything that could have improved the vibe in Campustown while you attended ISU?
Cleaner bathrooms

Have you made it back to Campustown as a young alum? If so, where did do you go? What was your experience like?

Yes, I have. We went to Outlaws and Sips. It was a great time, but I felt pretty old compared to the crowd in the bars.

Spotlight on Cyclone hoops

This article was originally published in the Feb. 27 issue of Young Alumni News, an email publication of the ISU Young Alumni Council sent bimonthly to graduates of the past 10 years. For more information about Young Alumni Council and the Alumni Association’s young alumni programming, contact Tillie Good at

With the airing of ESPN’s College GameDay from Ames Jan. 17 and the Cyclone men’s basketball team enjoying unprecedented levels of media attention under head coach Fred Hoiberg, excitement about Iowa State basketball is greater than ever. So Young Alumni News wanted to know: What is it like to be at the center of all this hubbub? We recently caught up with Joel Gourley, Cyclone Alley Central Committee co-chair, to find out what life is like at Hilton these days. (Full 2014-2015 Cyclone Alley Central committee pictured at right)

YAN: First of all, how long have you been involved with Cyclone Alley and what do you do as co-chair?
JG: I have been involved with Cyclone Alley for three years. I was a committee member for 2 years and am a co-chair for this season. As co-chair, I work with my other co-chair and committee members to create the best possible atmosphere for our men’s and women’s basketball teams. Specifically, my fellow co-chair and I work with the athletics department to come up with new ideas to increase attendance and reward students for attending basketball games. We also oversee timeout promotions and other in-game activities that our committee puts on.

What about Cyclone Alley has changed or improved over the past three years?
I would say the biggest change has been in our reward system. We reward students for attending games by assigning points for each game attended. Then there are rewards for receiving a certain amount of points. We have switched our rewards and/or the criteria for receiving rewards each year. I feel this year we have our best system in place and have the best rewards we have ever offered.

Student tickets seem to be a hot commodity these days. Students have camped out overnight for tickets and even to appear on College GameDay. Describe the organization and planning required to meet this kind of demand.
Both of the Cyclone Alley co-chairs serve on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, and that body serves as Jamie Pollard’s connection with students as the athletics department forms ticket policies and makes changes. While we don’t have any direct control over ticket policy, Cyclone Alley was one of the first groups to begin discussions about overselling the student section to allow more students access to men’s basketball specifically. For the most part the Athletics Ticket Office manages the organization required to sell tickets, and Cyclone Alley is committed to helping in any way we can.

What role does social media play in engaging Cyclone Alley members?

Social media is a huge asset for our marketing department. This is our main way of communicating with students about special events and opportunities that we may have going on. We use Facebook and Twitter to inform students about gamewatches, rewards, and giveaways. We also tweet updates about games for students unable to make it to Hilton.

What new cheers, props, or skits are you using this year?
This year we have made an effort to be even more active and visible during the games. We decided that investing in “big heads” that we could rent out during the games could accomplish that and improve the game atmosphere. So now we have 11 big heads to rent to students to wave during the game. We have also come up with new timeout promotions to try this year, including the 3-shot contest and the Naz Long 3-point shot of the game.

As a veteran on this committee, I have seen how new ideas can grow and evolve and the effect it will have future years.  I am excited to see what we can put in place now that may be there 5 or 10 years from now.

The Cyclone women’s team has a very loyal fan following and consistently ranks among the top 10 nationally. Talk about being a part of Cyclone Alley at the women’s basketball games.
It is very exciting to be a Cyclone Alley member during women’s games. The whole Ames community is so close and does a great job of supporting Iowa State events. It is this special bond that makes women’s games so fun. As you said, our women’s games attendance is one of the best in the nation, and as a student you can get extremely close to the action making you feel like you are a part of the game.

Cyclone Alley treats the men’s and women’s games equally and doesn’t do anything unique for women’s games, per se. However, as I mentioned before, we have a rewards system in place to reward students for attending games. Attending a men’s game is worth 1 point and attending a women’s game is worth 2 points.


**The ESPN College GameDay experience was a memory that will last a long time for ISU students and fans alike. Check out some great photos of the production from Jim Heemstra

**Students aren’t the only ones who can make it loud at Cyclone basketball games. The ISUAA Club of Washington, D.C. recently road-tripped to West Virginia to cheer on Fred & Co. The Cyclones won, of course. Find out how you can connect with other ISU alumni in your community for gamewatches and road trips at

**Help make some #HiltonSouth Magic with us this March! If you’re planning to follow the Cyclone women’s and/or men’s basketball teams to the Big 12 Tournament, be sure to check out for all the latest fan events and details.

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:


1) On March 22, the university annually celebrates Founders Day in recognition of the university’s creation in 1858. For the next 20 days, we’ll be counting down 20 points of #IowaStatePride on our Twitter feed. Be sure to check them out share them with your friends!

2) It’s March…which means one thing: Madness. We’ll be kicking things off, tournament style, this week as we travel to Dallas, Texas for the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tournament at the American Airlines Center. The Cyclone women are fresh off an AWESOME homecourt upset of No. 3 Baylor Saturday afternoon on Senior Day. Tournament seeds are still yet to be determined, big12tourneylogo2015_5EC46277DE070so stay tuned to for the latest information. Do plan to join us at the Dallas Hyatt Regency Hotel, 300 Reunion Blvd. for send-off spirit rallies 2 hours prior to tipoff of each game — whenever that will be. Get your poms, beads, and tattoos in the hotel lobby at our hospitality table.

Babb Bros. BBQ, located at 330 Bedford Ave., will be the official ISU fan headquarters in Dallas. The restaurant is owned by Mike, Bob, & Davy Babb—famous family of former Cyclone men’s basketball player Chris Babb—and located a short 5-minute drive away from the American Airlines Arena. Come to gather with Cyclones from all over and enjoy your time in Texas! Both women’s and men’s tournament info is available at

3) Last week the Wall Street Journal’s style pages dived into seven men’s style topics — and solicited the input of New York-based designer Todd Snyder ’92 along the way. Read the tips and get stylin’ this spring.

4) ISU Distinguished Professor of statistics Alicia Carriquiry is working to identify roadblocks that R154-648prevent veterans from getting the mental health services they need as the newly appointed chair of an Institute of Medicine independent evaluation of veterans affairs mental health services. She says she’s already gained tremendous perspective on the challenges our vets and their families face.

“We heard from the parents of one veteran who teetered on the edge for years, never getting the type of care that he needed until he took his own life,” she said. “It’s these stories that just break your heart.”

5) Apparently people like this guy, Fred Hoiberg. The coach with the best dance moves west of the Mississippi has advanced to the Final Four of the Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge with a chance to earn $100,000 for the American Heart Association. You can vote daily for The Mayor between now and March 15 and help his charity win the prize.