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International water prize winner tours regional schools

Schools in regional New South Wales (NSW) enjoyed a visit from the 2019 International Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner earlier this year, who spoke to students about the opportunities of studying STEM.

The Orana Water Utilities Alliance (OWUA) – which includes 11 local government areas in western NSW – hosted Macinley Butson on a tour of schools in February to address school students considering study and careers in science. 

Butson spoke to students at Narromine High School and St Matthews Catholic School in Mudgee, and also presented a keynote address at St Matthews’ Science, Engineering and Maths Careers Expo.

OWUA Project Officer Alayna Gleeson said the tour was instigated after hearing Butson speak at the 2019 Australian Water Association (AWA) NSW State Conference in Orange. 

“We cover regional, remote and small communities, with young people who could use a bit of inspiration, particularly during this long period of drought. That’s what the tour was all about,” Gleeson said. 

“Macinley is an amazing public speaker. The way she captured the room at the AWA Conference in Orange was inspiring. It was a great opportunity to get her out into regional NSW to inspire the next generation to be involved in the water industry.”

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Gleeson said the tour was a huge success, with St Matthews Catholic School Mudgee also hosting a high tea for primary school aged girls who also had a chance to meet Butson. 

“The careers expo and high tea provided students with a great opportunity to speak to Macinley about her inventions and her study; they were really motivated and engaged by what she said, which was brilliant to see,” she said.

The tour was such a success that Gleeson said OWUA would be pleased to take the opportunity to tour young STEM talent again. 

“It was our first time, but if an opportunity presented itself, we'd definitely look to do it again and take it to other schools,” Gleeson said.

“It's important that we're out there engaging with the next generation and future water leaders. The water industry has an ageing population. Whatever we can do to help support young people coming through the system is extremely beneficial.”

Butson was awarded the 2019 International Stockholm Junior Water Prize after first winning the Australian competition. This year's winner, Emma Serisier, was announced last week.