Sara Kobilka
Sara Kobilka

Age 30 | Guided learning manager, the Science Center of Iowa


A self-proclaimed nerd, Sara Kobilka has turned her love of science into a rewarding career.

Kobilka, who earned her bachelor’s degree in atmospheric and oceanic science from the University of Wisconsin, has worked as a meteorologist for ABC5 and interim director for the Iowa Arboretum. She recently was promoted to the position of guided learning manager for the Science Center of Iowa.

Kobilka started that job in January and is in charge of planning events such as summer and winter children’s camps as well as the Café Scientifique series of informal events geared toward adults. So far, she has brought in an archaeologist who worked in Egypt and a biologist who wrote a book titled “The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us.”

Kobilka is also involved with the Girls in Science Initiative, which aims to empower and equip girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She said the program attracts girls from kindergarten through high school.

“I’m very passionate about providing girls with successful role models, to show them that they can have families and jobs,” she said.

When she’s not teaching others about science, Kobilka spends a great deal of her time volunteering. She has helped out with the Historic East Village Gala, the Evening of Reflections auction for the Alzheimer’s Association and Bras for the Cause, a nonprofit group that auctions off decorated brassieres to raise money for mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.

She has even donated her voice to record a series of young adult novels for the Iowa Department for the Blind.

“I just like going and helping,” she said. “People who volunteer are the most interesting people, because they’re always passionate.”


Five reasons she’s a 40:

• Develops and manages the Science Center’s learning opportunities, such as summer camps, winter camps and overnight visits.

• Worked as the morning and midday meteorologist for WOI-TV, the local ABC affiliate.

• Kobilka was the 2010 auction chair for the Historic East Village Gala and Bras for the Cause, which provides funding for programs to ensure that all Iowans who are either uninsured or underinsured have access to mammograms and cervical testing.

• She tutors students one-on-one for Club-Z! in-home tutoring.

• Served as the interim director for the Iowa Arboretum from 2010-2011. Kobilka managed a $400,000 annual budget, recruited and trained volunteers, developed educational programming and coordinated marketing campaigns.


Fun Fact:

Kobilka has one brown eye and one hazel eye, which she said was a bit problematic when she filled out the application for her driver’s license. “I asked them, ‘What am I supposed to put?’” she said.


Meet the 2012 Forty Under 40 Honorees


Michael Abbott - Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
Sondra Ashmore - IBM Corp.
Shannon Baird - JE Dunn Construction Co.
J. Eric Boehlert - Ahlers & Cooney P.C.
Nataliya Boychenko - Holmes Murphy and Associates Inc.
Becki Brommel - BrownWinick
Catherine Cownie - BrownWinick
Spencer Cox - Vending Services Inc.
Scott Crawford - RDG Planning & Design
Tony Dickinson - Wells Fargo Bank
Shannon Duval - Mercy Foundation
Meg Fitz - Greater Des Moines Partnership
Tim Hayes - McLellan Marketing Group
Christi Hegstad - MAP Professional Development Inc.
Naura Heiman Godar - StruXture Architects LLC
Danielle Hermann - OPN Architects Inc.
Sara Kobilka - Science Center of Iowa
Liz Lidgett - Kum & Go LC
Holly Logan - Weinhardt & Logan P.C.
Matthew Marckmann - Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
Bryan Michael - Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.
Ben Milne - Dwolla Corp.
Suzanne Mineck - Mid-Iowa Health Foundation
Nikki Miras Mordini - Davis Brown Law Firm
David Nelmark - Belin McCormick P.C.
Anthony Nguyen - Wells Fargo Bank
Lynh Nguyen Patterson - Delta Dental of Iowa
Matt Nuetzman - InFocus Partners
Brad Phillips - Farm Bureau Financial Services
Tina Potthoff - MidAmerican Energy Co.
Erin Schneider - Censeo Solutions Inc.
Steve SchraderBachar - Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Inc.
Jamie Schug - Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority
Kristina Stanger - Nyemaster Goode P.C.
Nate Stewart - Perishable Distributors of Iowa Ltd.
Jason Stone - Davis Brown Law Firm
Mellisa Stover - Bankers Trust Co.
Tray Wade - Hospice of Central Iowa
Eric Wieland - Federal Emergency Management Agency
Geoff Wood - Silicon Prairie News