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Iowa Students Receive National Honors for Their Poetry
Posted: 03/22/2012
DES MOINES – Six Iowa students have received national recognition for poetry they submitted to the 2012 River of Words Environmental Poetry and Art Contest.

Mitchell Oberfoell, 8, of West Des Moines was awarded the Monkey’s Raincoat Prize, which honors the best short poem in the haiku tradition. His poem, “Pine Cones,” was selected as the top haiku among all age groups.    

Five additional poems written by Iowa students were also selected from thousands of entries and recognized as national finalists.
  • Ethan Berning, 10, Boxholm
  • John Culver, 9, West Des Moines
  • Maya Freking, 8, West Des Moines
  • Erin Zeka, 9, Fort Dodge
  • Margaret Schultz, 18, Iowa City

“Having an Iowa student selected for a special prize and so many finalists really shows the talent of Iowa’s youth and their appreciation for nature,” said Lisa Fascher, Iowa DNR River of Words coordinator. “Iowans should be proud of the accomplishments of these young people.”

All national winners and finalists will be posted in April on the River of Words website

Following the national competition, all Iowa entries are returned to the IOWATER program, which holds an annual statewide contest.  The national winners will be recognized along with the statewide winners at a ceremony this summer.    

The Iowa River of Words contest is coordinated by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and IOWATER program.

The annual River of Words contest is sponsored by St. Mary’s College in California and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

For more information about the River of Words organization, go to