Central Iowa Chapter Eager to Welcome Penn Staters To Its Neck Of The Woods

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.

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

“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.” 

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

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.”

To learn more about the Central Iowa Chapter, visit their website, email them psuiowa@gmail.com, or follow them on Facebook

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.

Get To Know The Metro D.C. Chapter of the Alumni Association

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Schlegel/Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter

Andrew Schlegel ’12 had landed a dream job.

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, he had grown up around agriculture, attending local farm shows every January and experiencing the Governor’s School for Agricultural Sciences program one summer at Penn State. 

He graduated from Penn State in 2012 with a degree in food science and a minor in international agriculture, which helped him join the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington, D.C. 

The only problem with the move to the nation’s capital? He didn’t really know anyone at first.

“I knew that there were Penn Staters in the area,” Schlegel said. “So I kind of took it upon myself to go out and see what was out there. I found the Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Alumni Association, went to one or two of their events, and they were really welcoming.” 

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Schlegel/Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter

He couldn’t think of a better way to adjust to his new surroundings than using his Penn State connection in the area. He started attending the chapter’s football game watch parties, then joined their softball team to get to know some members a bit more. 

After a few years, he took on the role as membership chair for the chapter, and then became social chair for a year-and-a-half.

Schlegel moved up to vice president. He’s now been chapter president for just over a year, and he’s wasting no time in trying to help expand the chapter’s footprint in the Washington, D.C. area. 

“One of the big things I’ve tried to focus on is just having more events in general. We’ve always had a very social aspect to the chapter, but getting involved in the community service, professional development and scholarship fundraising, has been important,” Schlegel said. “I want us to use different ways to reach alumni.” 

The chapter’s usual student scholarship donation totals of $15,000 per year, as impressive as that number was, increased this past year to $20,000.

The Metro D.C. Chapter has also recently teamed up with other Big Ten alumni groups in the area for different events throughout the year, namely a “Big Ten Day of Service,” which saw the various chapters come together to clean up a local park. 

Not surprisingly, one of the more popular events the chapter hosts remains its football viewing parties. 

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Schlegel/Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter

“We currently have five football viewing sites,” Schlegel said. “One in Northern Virginia, in Arlington. One in Bethesda, Maryland, and three more spread out in the D.C. area along the metro lines. Each of them offer their own unique perspective.” 

In addition to providing that unrivaled Penn State gameday atmosphere, Schlegel said the chapter uses the watch parties for much more than just the football games. 

Each site offers something different, whether that’s a white out party at the Arlington location whenever the football team hosts a Penn State White Out game, or various raffles and food and drink specials during each watch party. 

“We like to utilize the viewing sites as a way for people to give back to the chapter, like donating to our scholarship fund,” Schlegel. “People love Penn State football and they want to watch with other Penn State fans and alumni. It’s a great way to get those people together and showcase for them that the chapter is there. Let them know what we have to offer. Talk to them and let them know there’s this wider network of Penn Staters in the area.”

Schlegel and the rest of the Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter will have a heavy presence when the football team, fans and alumni travel to College Park this Friday for the Nittany Lions’ matchup with the Maryland Terrapins.

The chapter teamed up with the Washington Nationals to provide tickets for its members and other Penn Staters for the Nationals’ game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon, before hosting the Thursday Night Mixer at the Mission Navy Yard.

Before the game itself on Friday, the chapter is teaming up with the Penn State Alumni Association for the Penn State Tailgate, to be held at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center just across the Terrapins’ stadium. 

Each Penn State Tailgate features the Nittany Lion, Pep Band, and Penn State Cheerleaders, along with an opportunity to hear from special guests and share in Penn State camaraderie.

The Chapter was able to secure some tickets to the game for members, tickets that became a hot commodity with the Terrapins’ strong start to the 2019 season, and a rejuvenated interest from their fanbase for the game against Penn State. 

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Schlegel/Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter

It promises to be a few days of fun for Schlegel and the chapter, who said he’s said he and other members are always excited when a Penn State Athletics team comes to the Washington, D.C. area. 

“Now that Maryland is in the Big Ten, there are a few more opportunities. Anytime a team comes to play here we always try our best to make sure we’re posting about it, that we get some alumni out to the games to support the athletes,” Schlegel said.

“Football is obviously the big one. The stadium is probably going to be sold out for this year’s game. Parking is pretty much sold out. It’s a big deal for our alumni in the D.C. area, and Baltimore, Annapolis, and even Virginia. We’re really excited.”

To learn more about the Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter, visit www.psuwashdc.org or email Andrew at president@psuwashdc.org

The Metro D.C. Chapter is one of 300-plus Penn State Alumni Association affiliate groups worldwide. Visit alumni.psu.edu/groups to connect with Penn Staters in your area.

The Legacy Continues

Like any father of a high school senior, Leonard Humphries knew he had to let his son make the college choice that was best for him—regardless of Humphries’ connection to his own alma mater.

“I wanted him to approach the process with an open mind, look at everything that’s out there and make a determination,” Humphries says. “He might not like the same things I like. What was good for me 30 years ago, I didn’t know if it was going to be good for him.”

And so, the senior Humphries insists, there was was no pressure. But there was hope. “I just hoped that he understood what I know about Penn State, and what a great university it is.”

Leonard’s hope was officially rewarded on Wednesday, Continue reading

FBL Podcast: Iowa Week

 

We get ready for Big Ten play and catch up with one of the famed Penn State Collins brothers as the Nittany Lions hit the road for a big game in Iowa City.

Hailing from Cinnaminson, N.J., Jason Collins ’97 was a standout on the undefeated 1994 squad, Continue reading

FBL Podcast: Georgia State Week

 

It’s Panthers on both sides on this week’s podcast, as we look back at a satisfying victory over old rival Pitt, and look ahead to this week’s visit from Georgia State.

We’ve got a great conversation with Anwar Phillips ’05, a standout in the secondary on the Nittany Lions’ mid-2000s teams, including that memorable run to the 2005 Big Ten championship, Continue reading

Mike Stella’s Rare Strength

As a member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class and one of the best high school tight ends in the country, Pat Freiermuth (above, left) knows his audience. So when he tweeted recently encouraging his followers to check out a short documentary film, he made sure to mention that the film’s subject, Mike Stella, is a Penn Stater.

Stella ’05 (right) is a strength and conditioning coach who works with young athletes in the greater Boston area. That’s how he linked up with Freiermuth, but it turns out the blue-and-white connections here run even deeper than the bond between one alum and one soon-to-be Lion.

Stella didn’t suit up for the Nittany Lions, but as a former student manager for the team, he’s an integral part of the Penn State football family. That’s all the more true considering what he had to overcome to get there. Continue reading

Fast Living with Chris Snyder

You might remember Chris Snyder as a hard-nosed defensive lineman on Penn State’s late ’90s teams. You might not know that Snyder ’97 then spent nearly a decade as an Arena Football League standout before retiring from the game in 2008. But even before he stepped away from football, he had embarked on a career as a fitness trainer that led him to work in another intense, competitive field: auto racing.

To be clear, Snyder isn’t driving—squeezing into an Indy Car cockpit is probably not an ideal career choice for a guy who played at 6-3, 270. Instead, since 2003, he has served as strength and conditioning coach for Chip Ganassi Racing. Continue reading