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Prairie STEM Board Member Spotlight

By Tanya Bachu


Prairie STEM is a nonprofit organization that aims to provide STEM Learning and SEL integration. With such a big mission and such a big world, it’s crucial for the organization to have an efficient team that works together and hard towards every goal. One such member is Alan Wang, the executive officer of Prairie STEM.


Photo courtesy of Alan Wang

1. How is it like being the executive officer of Prairie STEM?

“Like most things, it is filled with ups/downs. The ups are when we hear personal stories from students/teachers/families about the direct impact our programs/staff/volunteers have had on them. The downs have been when we've had to pivot due to COVID-19 and limit contact and in-person events with students. However, these challenges have helped Prairie STEM become a stronger, well-rounded program both in capacity building and program development.”


2. What is it like being part of the team at Prairie STEM?

“The Prairie STEM team is amazing! Beside the students and teachers we serve, the team is the reason we show up everyday regardless of how difficult it is or challenging the environment for education has become!”


3. How does Prairie STEM carry out its mission and values?

“We value each individual and try to follow the Starfish Thrower example, a story about a child making a difference by throwing beached starfish back into the ocean:


The starfish story By: Loren Eiseley

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking up and gently throwing things into the ocean.

Approaching the boy he asked, “Young man, what are you doing?”

“Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die,” the boy replied.

The man laughed to himself and said, “Do you realize there are miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make any difference.”

After listening politely, the boy bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the surf. Then, he smiled at the man and said, “I made a difference to that one.”

4. What is the process for deciding to start a new program at Prairie STEM? Why have you and your team chosen to start the programs that you have (examples: eSports, Girls in STEAM, etc.)?

“Looking to bridge gaps in equity, diversity and digital access. We are intentional in picking which schools to work with and the demographics of the student population we want to make a difference in their education and future development.”

5. What do you vision Prairie STEM to be 15 years from now?

“Hopefully doing more of what we're doing but scaled for a global audience. Prairie STEM is currently being asked to help countries with even more disparities in education and needing help to make a generational difference in the lives of their youth (Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda, Turkey).”

6. What type of people are you looking for as volunteers?

“We look for people/students who have a passion for helping others - everything else falls into place as long as the desire to make a difference is there.”

7. How does Prairie STEM emphasize the importance of education in its own unique way?

“We use the most current innovative technologies (Robotics, Drones, Virtual reality, Esports) to engage students and show how this is part of their future and why we need to focus on STEM foundations.”

8. You have led the Prairie STEM team since 2015. How have you developed/changed Prairie STEM to become better?

“Prairie STEM is a team where every team member has helped to influence and grow the mission/vision for the organization. My role as a leader is to help support the team and give them every resource they need for success. As far as I'm concerned, I serve the team and the team serves our community.”


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