2015 USA Student Finalists

Hayley Buettell
Mediapolis High School

Autism Is a Family Affair
This project created awareness and understanding about autism, especially among children, and supported children with autism and their families. After raising money for supplies, volunteer assistance was used to make 50 weighted blankets for distribution to needy children with autism. Additionally, children with autism and their siblings were interviewed to create a video about autism for free public access.

Hannah Dettmann
Fairfield Community High School

Milkweed for Monarchs
I am planting monarch and pollinator habitat around my town. Recently monarchs and many native pollinators have been dying off due to the destruction of their habitat. By working to increase their habitat through prairie restoration, trail plantings, and informing the public I am working to preserve natural bio density and save a specie.

Sean Eilers
Scattergood Friends School, West Branch
West Des Moines

Aquaponics for Schools
Scattergood Friends School grows its own certified organic food for students and staff throughout the summer. However, during the winter months the school needs to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. My aquaponics project will provide fresh produce to the school 12 months a year. An aquaponics system uses the waste produced by fish as nutrients for plants grown hydroponically.

Emma Hochfelder
Harlan Community High School

The Cyclone Way
My project goes beyond simply preaching to students that they have self-worth. The Cyclone Way actually shows students their self-worth through community based projects. By focusing on core values such as trustworthiness, fairness, respect, responsibility, citizenship, and caring, this project involves bettering not only for the individual, but the Harlan community as a whole.

Layel Hofmaster
Home School, Cedar Rapids

Hope Does: Orphan Awareness Fair
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless (Psalm 82:3).” My project, Hope Does: Orphan Awareness Fair, was to embody this command. My goal was threefold; to raise money for the Bring Me Hope Foundation, which works with Chinese orphans, to provide help for families who are adopting and to raise awareness of the orphan crisis.

Erin Kuba
Jefferson High School,
Cedar Rapids

Kickin’ Cancer
Kickin’ Cancer was developed out of my passion to raise awareness, money, and goal to inspire others to support cancer research. I organized a kickball tournament with high school students, community members, and friends. I used my previous fundraising experience and contacts to support this event. The event was held on Sunday, September 13th and raised over $2,700.

Trygve Lien
South Winneshiek CSD

Nutrient management for better crops and better water quality
Soil stewardship is everyone’s responsibility. My project goal is to educate the public that it is our moral obligation to take care of the land, water and trees. I am learning soil stewardship and crop management and in turn I am sharing my findings and educating others so together we can feed a starving world.

Bailey Lukavsky
West Branch High School,
West Branch

Knocking out the facts about concussions
My project is to create awareness about the reality and severity of concussions through informative presentations to athletes, coaches, educators, and administrators. This past winter I suffered a severe concussion resulting in ill effects within my athletic and academic life. Few people understand exactly what a person who suffers a concussion has to go through—especially academically and emotionally.

Emily Montelius
Jefferson High School
Cedar Rapids

J’s Closet
At my high school 50% of the students are living in poverty. Through donations my project provides those in need with school supplies, clothing, shoes, and hygiene products at no charge throughout the year. J’s Closet has become a no questions asked, judgment free environment dedicated to helping kids feel confident at school knowing they fit in with their peers.

Joshua Pautz
Muscatine High School

A Peer Tutoring Program for Muscatine High School
My Peer Tutoring program for Muscatine High School is a student-led, student-organized program. Its goal is to provide struggling students with a reliable, personal instructional resource and to create an opportunity for academically successful students to serve their fellow students.

Beau Ragland
Marshalltown High School

Connecting Marshalltown Youth with Iowa’s Veterans
My project involved building connections between my community and veterans. I organized and raised funds for the painting of a mural in my town in front of the Iowa Veterans Home. I then held a public program aimed to build bonds between community members and local veterans. Together, the mural and program showed my community’s appreciation toward our country’s veterans.

Sydney Rieckhoff
John F. Kennedy High School
Cedar Rapids

Cash Class
Cash Class taught financial literacy and entrepreneurship two times per week to at-risk students at the Henry Davison Youth Center. Through interactive activities and a variety of worksheets tailored to individual students’ needs, fifteen young people received helpful tips on how to create a bright and financially successful future.

Bethany Schmieder
Calamus Wheatland

Community Amphitheater
I am trying to build an amphitheater for my rural school and community. My school does not have any nice facilities for the fine and performing arts, both of which are very important to me. I also know that my community could really use a new and well-kept area such as an outdoor amphitheater.

Chrissy Vinton
Glenwood High School

Farm Safety Kits: Take a Break to Stay Safe
Yearly, 100+ youth under age 20 die in farm-related accidents. These preventable accidents occur when one becomes overly tired from working long hours. In 2012 I designed a Farm Safety Kit project with my 4-H club to enhance awareness of farm safety. Kits were designed to help adult farmers but evolved to educate all ages to think farm safe.