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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Flourishing without fertilizer

While water is one of our most crucial resources, it's something most of us in America take for granted. It's there when we need a drink, and our lakes and rivers provide pleasurable hours of recreational activities.

But water has been a major focus for Marguerite Moeller, a 10th-grader and member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Decorah, Iowa.

After learning that lawn fertilizers can contaminate water sources, she and two schoolmates, Hannah Hagen-Atwell and Katie Haller, developed a strategy to educate their community on ways to curb water pollution.

The girls entered their proposal for a Bayer/NSF Award, a nationwide competition for middle-school students who identify an issue and use science and technology to develop an innovative solution.

Moeller and her teammates didn't win the $25,000 prize, but advancing to the finals motivated them to apply to the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation for a Nonpoint Source Pollution Information and Education grant, which they received.

The $2,500 grant enabled them to print informational pamphlets and to run radio public-service advertisements. They have also taken out ads in local newspapers and are happy to speak to any group or individual in the community about the problem.

"I don't think many people know about how fertilizers are polluting the water," Moeller said. "I didn't know until we started doing research. We're trying to urge people not to use fertilizers, or if they do, to make sure not to use too much and have it run off into the water.

"I think a lot about the environment, and I want to do all I can to keep the water quality good."


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