What the Central Iowa Chapter of the Alumni Association might lack in numbers, it makes up for in Penn State pride.
Herb Meier a 1973 Penn State graduate, has been with the chapter since its beginning.
Meier came out to Iowa for work, having taken a job with the IRS. He held the role as the chapter’s treasurer for a number of years before finally taking over the presidency.
Based in Des Moines, the chapter covers all of Central Iowa, making it a bit difficult to get all Penn Staters living in that area together often for events.
That hasn’t stopped the chapter’s activity levels, though. Meier said the chapter has about 25 paid members, all of whom are extremely dedicated.
The group hosts Penn State football watch parties, and also looks to attend sporting events when other Penn State teams are in the area.
Back in August, members of the group made the trip to Ames, Iowa, to watch the women’s volleyball team take on the Iowa State Cyclones for the Cyclone Invitational — a 3-0 win for the Nittany Lions.
“It was a real treat for us, because we don’t get to see them too often,” Meier said laughing.
Other events include an annual ice cream social, a summer picnic, and a winter party that’s held at the local botanical center.
Meier and other chapter members also participate in volunteer activities a few times each year.
“We’ve gone to a local wildlife sanctuary, it’s called the Neal Smith Wildlife Reserve,” Meier said. “We’ve gone down there and done some work packaging meals and they send them all across the country and all across the world to help feed people.”
This weekend, Meier and the rest of the Central Iowa Chapter will host the Friday Night Mixer at the Backpocket Brewery and Tap Room ahead of the Penn State football game at Iowa
Meier is excited for the chapter to connect with Penn Staters traveling into the state for the game.
“It’s pretty special. We get to make a lot of connections and meet some other people from different chapters,” Meier said. “It’s good to connect with the Alumni Association and the representatives there. We email back and forth with them, but it’s always nice to see and talk with them face to face. We get to see the Blue Band, the Nittany Lion and the cheerleaders. It’s great. It’s special for us.”
It’s also a good opportunity to raise some funds to keep the chapter running and to support the chapter’s scholarship fund.
“We’ve been really trying to grow (our scholarship fund),” Meier said. “It’s difficult because we don’t have a large base, but this will really help with that.”
Most Penn State fans probably don’t see Penn State vs. Iowa as too big of a rivalry, but because they live in “enemy territory,” members of the Central Iowa Chapter do see matchups between the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes as a bit of a rivalry.
“The 2017 game, you talk about a wild game (Penn State won on a last-second touchdown),” Meier said.
“They’ve had some pretty good games over the years. I know people back east don’t consider it a rivalry, but us out here, we kind of see it somewhat as a rivalry. We’ve had some really good games and they’ve beat us in an upset a couple of times. To us, it’s a special game.”
The Central Iowa Chapter is one of nearly 300 Penn State Alumni Association affiliate groups worldwide. Visit alumni.psu.edu/groups to connect with Penn Staters in your area.