BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Water Environment Federation (WEF) announced Wednesday that Maggie Walker has been selected as Iowa’s 2017 state winner of the U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize, the nation’s most prestigious youth award for a water-related science project.
Walker, a senior at Holy Trinity Catholic School, is the daughter of Steve and Bridget Link of Fort Madison and Jay and Amy Walker of West Point. Walker’s project, entitled Sodium Polyacrylate Used for Nitrate Runoff Prevention – Phase 2, will now compete in the national finals June 16-17 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
This is the second time Walker has received the award. As a junior last year she also advanced to the national competition, but didn’t finish in the top three so she didn’t know where she placed exactly.
“My project last year was the first phase. I didn’t win anything at the national event because they only acknowledge the top 3,” Walker said.
“This year I did a Phase 2 and I made the project grow and expanded the size of the testing. Originally I started with lab work and testing in conical tubes. This year I used a larger form and used a gutter system to create these real field simulations so I could get more accurate results of what the test would be like in the real world.”
Walker, who plans on attending Loyola University in Chicago, said her mom will travel to North Carolina with her.
Ernie Schiller, who worked part-time this year helping the students prepare their presentations for local and regional competitions, said Walker worked independently on the project and is very deserving of the recognition.
“Kudos to Maggie and her supportive parents,” Schiller said. “Maggie is a wonderful student and a dedicated young lady, involved in HTC life in many aspects. She is a dedicated young scientist working independently, doing her own research and performing above the norm.
The national winner(s) will receive $10,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Stockholm, Sweden to represent the United States at the international competition during World Water Week on August 27 to September 1. The international winner(s) will receive $15,000 presented during a royal ceremony by the prize’s Patron HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize aims to increase students’ interest in water-related issues and research and to raise awareness about global water challenges. The competition is open to projects aimed at improving water quality, water resources management, water protection, and drinking water and wastewater treatment.
“WEF is very proud to shine a spotlight on some of our country’s brightest high school students, who impress us all with their innovative projects that focus on protecting our precious water resources,” said WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “These students give us great confidence in the future of water science and research.”
In the U.S., WEF and its Member Associations organize the regional, state, and national competitions with support from Xylem Inc., who also sponsors the international competition. The Bjorn von Euler Innovation in Water Scholarship Award, a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by Xylem Inc., will be also awarded to the state winner who demonstrates a passion for education, spirit of creativity, and innovation.
For more information on the Stockholm Junior Water Prize and to see the 2017 state winners: www.wef.org/resources/for-the-public/SJWP/ .