JERFSA student impresses at the 29th annual Southwest Florida Water Resources Conference


Jupiter High School sophomore Emily Richter wowed at the 29 annual Southwest Florida Water Resources Conference on Jan. 24 at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers, Florida.         

Richter was the only student from JHS selected to attend the conference. Teresa Thornton, Richter’s teacher, asked her students to complete a research project, and if the project was completed by a certain time, they could attend the conference.

“Emily was the only student who really worked hard and got it done; she’s an amazing girl,” Thornton said.

Richter’s project included quantifying and identifying microplastics from three different areas in Palm Beach County.

“I received donated samples of plastic once a week and analyzed them under a microscope. The project took me four months to complete. I identified the shape, color, type and quantity of the plastics and recorded how many I found at each site for a period of time,” Richter said.

Richter said she was honored to get invited to present at the conference. The extensive conference focused on water resources of southwest Fla. and included professional presentations on technical topics, a student poster session, a student and professional networking luncheon, an evening social and a Saturday field trip.

“I was the youngest person and the only high school student at the conference competing with undergraduate and graduate students,” Richter said.  “There was a poster contest where me and twenty other people had to present our findings using 3’ x 4’ posters in front of 15 people.” 

Richter’s project idea came from a previous student’s senior project that was also offered the chance to go to the conference, but Emily put in twice the work and twice the research and earned the honor of presenting. 

“Emily continues to work on her project and will be attending the National Water Resources Conference in Nov. She will have much more data by that time, and we are hoping she will win an award,” Thornton said.                

Richter has always been passionate about conservation and raising awareness about contributing to a healthier environment.

“I got involved in JERFSA and environmental issues because I wanted to be able to contribute to helping the environment,” Richter said.