Iowa Water Center Recognizes Iowa Students in Essay Writing Contest

03.15.2017 - Ames, Iowa - The Iowa Water Center conducted its first-ever essay writing contest entitled, “Spirit of the Water,” for high school students in Iowa. In this contest, 9th-12th grade students were invited to share how water inspires them. Three prize-winning essays will receive a monetary prize, recognition at the Iowa Water Conference to be held on March 22-23rd, and will be published in an anthology.
This year, students were asked to think of a body of water they are familiar with in Iowa and to write an essay on why places like that are worth protecting. First place was awarded to Donald Gee from Johnston, Iowa. Second place was awarded to Anna Kolln from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Third Place was awarded to Tyler Buman from Harlan, Iowa. An honorable mention was awarded to Maggie Langenfeld from Harlan, Iowa for the engagement and creativity in her essay on the multiple benefits of water.
Submissions to the contest were evaluated by a panel of agency representatives, industry experts, and researchers in water. This year’s panelists included Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey; Laura Crowell, State Public Affairs Specialist for the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Betty and Dennis Keeney, benefactors of the contest (Dennis is a professor emeritus at Iowa State University and was the first director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture).
“This essay contest is a great creative outlet for youth to share their connection with the state’s water resources,” said Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “The interest in water quality transcends generations and these students have powerfully captured the important role water plays in all of our lives.”
This is the first year of the Spirit of the Water Essay contest organized by the Iowa Water Center. The winning essays will be made available on the Iowa Water Center website ( after publication of the anthology. This contest was conceived by and funded through a generous gift from Betty and Dennis Keeney of Ames, Iowa.
The Iowa Water Center: The Iowa Water Center is a federally-funded organization part of the National Institutes of Water Resources. Located on the Iowa State University campus, it is one of 54 institutes located throughout the United States and U.S territories. The purpose of the Iowa Water Center is to identify water-related research needs, provide outreach and education opportunities, and disseminate information about Iowa’s water resources to the public to form better policies and everyday practices. 

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