Iowa trivia’s biggest fan

One of the first suffrage parades in America was in Boone, Iowa. Belle Babb Mansfield, the nation’s first female attorney, studied law at Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Facts like that, and many more, are the specialty of Jessica Rundlett ’07.

Jessica Rundlett ’07 near the Iowa State Capitol with two Iowa Trivia Challenge championship plaques.

Rundlett, a two-time winner of the Van & Bonnie All Iowa Trivia Bee, has vivid memories of studying the question and answer booklet from an Iowa trivia board game and getting quizzed on Brain Quest decks by her mother. Through her father, a trucker, she learned the value of getting off the interstate and discovering the road less traveled.

When Rundlett arrived at Cornell College in 2003, she delivered an extemporaneous speech at the New Student Orientation Talent Show. And the speech? All that was good about Iowa.

“It seemed like everyone else sang songs, played instruments, or did magic tricks, and there I was, imploring my classmates to love the state that would be their home for the next four years,” she says.

Among the many reasons to love Iowa, she says, is that the state has long been a leader in expanding civil rights and equality, often long before changes were adopted on a national level. This has included banning the enslavement of people (1839), desegregating schools (1868), and granting same-sex couples the right to marry (2009).

Rundlett graduated from Cornell with majors in politics, history, and international business, and found a position with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources helping visitors to connect with historic sites and cultural resources. Through this, she learned that she was able to share history in a compelling way.

In 2012 Rundlett joined the State Historical Society of Iowa as special projects and outreach coordinator. Her primary focus for the past three years has been a traveling exhibit in a custom-built, Iowa-made Winnebago called “History on the Move: Iowa History 101.” Every three years, the mobile museum visits all 99 counties of Iowa.

“It’s an honor for me to share Iowa history with young Iowans,” Rundlett says. “My hope is that after a visit to the mobile museum, they realize that Iowa is a special place—a place far more than just flyover country.”

When she’s not traveling with the mobile museum, Rundlett spends time traveling around Iowa, sharing the Iowa Culture Trivia Challenge, and promoting the Iowa Culture app. At Trivia Challenge events, she combines education and entertainment to share stories and teach audience members a bit more about Iowa.

Perhaps we are biased, but the Orange Carpet seems like a pretty great place to host the next Trivia Challenge.

Take Rundlett’s 10-question Iowa trivia challenge.