Cy’s Suitcase: August Edition

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A Message from Shellie

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”

– Samuel Johnson

If there was one piece of advice I have for people today to experience more joy in life, it would be to travel more. Traveling is wonderful in many ways. It gives us a sense of wanderlust and has us longing for more destinations to visit, cultures to experience, food to eat, and people to meet. But, most importantly, travel changes you by opening your eyes to see this world is a big place and we are just inhabiting one small part of it.

When we spend time away from home, especially in a place where we don’t have luxuries readily available to us — like a village I visited in Fiji that runs without electricity — we become more aware and appreciative of luxuries we have back home. I remember visiting Tanzania and watching kids haul concrete blocks in wheelbarrows and walk miles with the load – in the heat. The lucky kids there would walk more than three miles, one-way, to go to school. When I got home and heard my kids complain about HAVING to go to school, I felt sad at how we take things for granted here in the United States. I wish everyone had a chance to see how much poverty there is in the world and better appreciate what they have.

There are so many amazing places to visit in this world. I’m not sure where your heart is telling you to go next, but take a look at our 2018 trips that are now up on our website and see all the amazing places the Traveling Cyclones will be going in the upcoming year. You can travel to the Wild West or Antarctica or the Kentucky Derby or Cuba. You can explore Africa or Alaska or cruise on the Danube or the Mississippi. We offer a variety of trips that we hope will cover everyone’s wish list.

For anyone who gets to travel, it is a blessing. Traveling should change you. It leaves marks on your memory and on your heart. You take something with you and leave something good behind. When you return home, you are a better person with a wider perspective on your little part of the world. And — let’s be honest, as you lay your head on your pillow at night you will be grateful not only for what you have experienced, but for what you have.

See you everywhere,


Alaska 2018

We have a special opportunity for our Traveling Cyclones next July. We are partnering with the schools of the Big 12 Conference next July aboard Oceania Cruises’ Regatta  – – hosted by Voice of the Cyclones John Walters and his wife, Joni!

This Big 12 sports-themed trip to Alaska’s Vistas and Glaciers will include a Big 12 reception and tailgate, a celebrity lecture by legendary CBS Sports announcer Verne Lundquist, and the chance to network with not only your fellow Cyclones, but with Bears, Jayhawks, Horned Frogs, Sooners, Longhorns, Cowboys, Mountaineers, Wildcats, and Red Raiders, too. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see glaciers, fjords, forests, mountains, and historic Alaska towns — including the Alaska Explorer Youth Program for your children and grandchildren ages 5-12.

If Alaska’s on your bucket list, this is a cool opportunity to check it off. Let’s make sure Cyclones claim their fair share of the ship and represent the Cardinal & Gold on this Big 12 cruise. For more information about this unique opportunity to see Alaska, visit our website or call Traveling Cyclones director Shellie Andersen (L)(’88 marketing) or assistant director Heather Botine (L) toll-free at (877) 478-2586.


Shellie’s Shopping Secrets


Upcoming trips

Please check out our vast listing of 2018 trips to everywhere — and even some close to home. Visit www.isualum.org/travel. We hope to see you soon!


Travel tips

Ask for the digits.
If you are like me and have no sense of direction (a great trait for a travel director, huh?) I put my hotel name and address in my phone in case I go out on my own. And because I travel a lot, I also put my hotel room number in my phone. On a recent trip, we stayed at three hotels in six days. Not hard to get confused!

Ask the locals.
If you find some free time on your trip, ask a local where he or she would want to eat. You will find some spots that you might not have normally chosen.

Alert your bank and credit card company.
Let them know you will be traveling out of the country so they don’t put a hold on your credit card when they see you trying to use it out of the States.

Let someone at home know your plans.
This is extremely important when traveling solo, but it’s still a good idea no matter how many people are in your travel group.

Separate your personal items.
If you are traveling with a companion, it is a good idea to mix your personal items into each checked bag (if you have more than one.) That way if one of the bags gets lost, you still have some clothing and personal items.

Separate your sources of money.
Don’t keep all your cash and cards in one spot. I usually hide some cash and a backup credit card in a separate bag — not the same bag that my wallet is in.

Make a travel first aid kit.
I now travel with Tylenol, Ibuprofen, band aids, Benadryl, Tums, Neosporin, etc. I have had way too many bug bites, scrapes, tummy aches, etc., while traveling that I now know it’s best to be prepared. I also carry extra thread and buttons — something I have carried with me for years. A year ago, while in Cuba, my button on my dress fell off and that sewing kit came in handy!

Fans of the Future

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Cyclone Athletics connects kids to
ISU through the Junior Cyclone Club

Today’s kids are involved in countless activities, plugged into technology, and continually presented with a smorgasbord of entertainment options, leaving college athletics administrators everywhere with burning questions: Is there still room for good, old-fashioned sports fandom? Who will be the fans of the future?

At Iowa State, there’s reason to believe that the Cyclone fan of tomorrow is the kindergartener of today who high-fives Meredith Burkhall on the Hilton concourse after a women’s basketball victory, the fourth-grader who comes early to the spring football game so he can get  one-on-one coaching from Zeb Noland,  or the middle schooler who hosts her birthday party at a Cyclone gymnastics meet. Developed two decades ago as the “Lil’ Clone Club” by Cyclone women’s  basketball coach Bill Fennelly (L) to encourage game attendance among young families, today’s Junior Cyclone Club is one of the largest collegiate booster clubs for youth in the country, and Iowa State  is banking on the idea that this significant  investment in the future fan will ultimately pay major dividends.

“We put a tremendous amount of emphasis on our [youth] club compared to a lot of schools because we think it’s very important,” says Mary Pink (MEd ’10), ISU’s longtime associate athletics director for marketing.

When it began as a women’s basketball program initiative, the original Lil’ Clone Club attracted families by offering free T-shirts and souvenirs, priority seating, and a pizza party. Today, the Junior Cyclone Club offers, for only $59 per year, free admission to all football, women’s basketball, volleyball, wrestling, gymnastics, soccer, and softball events, as well as priority to purchase student seats for men’s basketball games that happen during winter break. The club, which has averaged around 5,000 members over the last five years, has added special free events ranging from sports clinics to the annual Cyclone FanFest and even movie nights in Jack Trice Stadium. The goal, Pink says, is to engage Millennials and members of Generation Z by offering what they crave most: one-of-a-kind experiences.

Among the families that have embraced the experiences Junior Cyclone Club has to offer is the Tubbs family of Des Moines. Over the last decade, Joanne Wilson Tubbs (L)(’94 music) says her three children have done everything from discovering their personal passions to forging friendships with student-athletes and fans.

“It’s not just the tickets and the high fiving,” Tubbs says. “The kids get to do clinics with the coaches and do special jobs like guest announcer at a volleyball game. They are going deeper than just, ‘Here’s a T-shirt and a ticket.’ They are really trying to engage kids in new ways. Every year, there’s something new. Even college kids don’t get to experience some of these things that the Junior Cyclone Club kids get to do.”

Tubbs and her husband, Peter Tubbs (L)(’92 telecommunicative arts, MBA ’10), are the busy parents of 15-year-old Julia, 11-year-old Carl, and 9-year-old Miles, who attend nearly 40 Junior Cyclone Club events every year.

“They’ve been back in the locker rooms, they’ve been behind the scenes, and it makes them feel so comfortable,” Tubbs says. “Campus now feels like home. They see themselves going to Iowa State because of their love for campus, their love for the Cyclones. They see it as super welcoming and not intimidating.”

Her great seats for Cyclone athletics events have benefited Julia in an unexpected way. She started bringing a camera and, through hours of practice from a great vantage point, has become an award-winning photographer.

“Every year she’ll take anywhere from 500 to 700 athletic pictures at Iowa State,” Tubbs says of her daughter. “She’ll enter her best ones at the State Fair and she’s actually won some pretty amazing awards; she  even got a small scholarship from Iowa State. They saw one of her pictures at the Fair and attached an award to it.”

Creating opportunities for young Cyclone fans to have incredible experiences is fully in line with athletics director Jamie Pollard’s vision. From transitioning local golf outings into the more family-friendly Cyclone Tailgate Tour to helping spearhead the uber-popular movie night events, Pink says Pollard (L) has been integral in expanding the Junior Cyclone Club’s reach.

“He’s really seen the value,” Pink says. “He was the one who actually said, ‘Let’s offer the Iowa game for football and make it a whole package.’ He was the one who brought up the idea of doing a pregame tunnel on the field. He always wants us to be more engaging of a broader range of families and kids.”

Offering prime seats for men’s basketball is another way Junior Cyclone Club stands out from its peers nationally, Pink says.

“We were really surprised and appreciative of what they’re doing with men’s basketball,” Tubbs says. “They can fill that place up and could have taken a step back [with Junior Cyclone Club benefits], but they didn’t. We were in the second row for Okie State. Crazy!”

18318357_10212291854429476_2133812422_oCrazy is one word Tubbs says she might normally use to describe her decision to let two young boys stay up to attend an 8 o’clock basketball game on a weeknight, but the experience was one her sons will never forget. They even made a sign (pictured at right), which received lots of TV attention, praising their mother for letting them “stay up late.”

Ultimately, Tubbs and Pink both agree, it’s those experiences that will become enduring memories and therefore the foundation of a lifetime relationship with Iowa State.

“It’s now more important than ever to engage kids with your brand at an early age,” Pink says. “You have a lot of competing forces for their attention and their  attendance, so we’re just always finding new ways to work with how kids and families today operate to engage them with Iowa State.”

Learn more at www.jrcycloneclub.com


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

Gardening for Good

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When you look at Iowa in the summer – with its bountiful crops and fertile soil – there’s no reason people should be hungry.

That’s the philosophy and the selfless goal of Tracy Blackmer (A)(’90 agronomy) of rural Madrid, Iowa. For the past four years, Blackmer has been organizing an army of volunteers to help tend his 10-acre garden for one purpose and one purpose only: To give the food away to those who need it.

IMG_8901This week, the ISU Alumni Association staff teamed up with colleagues at Nationwide Insurance to harvest peppers in the summer heat. So far this season, more than 8,000 pounds of food from Blackmer’s garden has been donated to the Food Bank of Iowa, a not-for-profit organization that disperses the produce to food pantries and other volunteer agencies in central Iowa. As of this week, Blackmer estimates that as many of 4,000 volunteers have worked in his bountiful vegetable patch this year, taking on such tasks as planting, weeding, and harvesting.

“This is my hobby,” he said. “I enjoy doing it, and it helps others. People want to make a difference, and we just provide a place for them to do it.”

IMG_8899In addition to the peppers the Alumni Association staff harvested, Blackmer and his wife, Doreen (A)(’88 animal science) are growing eggplant, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, zucchini, winter squash, cabbage, turnips, radishes, beets, kohlrabi, carrots, and string beans – a veritable vegetable soup of flavorful produce.


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The time each volunteer worked in the garden was recorded and submitted to our Cy’s Days of Service program. Cy’s Days of Service is designed to unite Cyclones everywhere in community service while spreading their ISU pride. If you have completed or plan to participate in any service opportunities before May 2018, you can report your hours on our Cy’s Days of Service website.
Whether your volunteer work is specially designed for Cy’s Days of Service or a project you’re doing with family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues, it can all be counted to help us reach our goal of 30,000 hours of service. Be sure to wear ISU apparel so your photos will showcase how Cyclones everywhere are making a difference in their communities!