JAY — Members of the Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon team met Wednesday, Aug. 1, to share experiences from their trip west to compete in the NCF North American Envirothon in Pocatello, Idaho.
The team took first place at the Aquatics station and finished in six place among the 50 teams competing. The team from Idaho made the plaques for every team.
Advisor Rob Taylor said he believes that is the highest finish ever for a team from Maine.
Chaperon and RSU 73 school board member Ann Schwab said, “It was a fantastic experience. These kids worked well together. Saying they’re awesome is a complete understatement.”
Jordan Daigle has been part of three Envirothon teams that earned the right to compete at the national level. He has been to Maryland and Ontario.
“Idaho was much different. West of the Continental Divide it’s like a different country. The culture, a different style of life, how much open space there is,” he said. “It was 95 degrees and sunny. So dry, so much dust. Little things made a significant difference. It was cool to see how much the land changed.”
John Brenner said, “It was well worth going out early. It would have been a lot harder. A lot of teams competed and stayed a day or two after.”
Orion Schwab said there were incredibly steep grades. The forests were completely different.
“They were mostly lodge pole pines. There are big fires every 40 to 50 years where entire tracts are wiped out. The pines need the fires to start new seedlings.
Daigle said the elevation is 8,300 feet at the Continental Divide. Katahdin is around 5,300 feet.
“To be up that high, it doesn’t even feel like you’re up that high,” he said.
Hunter Quirrion said there is no air and they weren’t used to that.
Rylee Delaney said the stop at the Grand Canyon was one of her favorite parts of the trip.
“It was absolutely gorgeous with a big waterfall,” she said.
Long days and lack of sleep were noted by several members.
Daigle said, “Those five or six days are the longest of your life. Going to bed at 1 a.m., up at 6 a.m. daily.”
Delaney enjoyed meeting people from other states and countries.
Daigle said, “It was cool to meet people that had been at prior national competitions and to see new people from different states each year. It’s interesting to see who you get paired up with.”
Daigle said Envirothon has helped him work better with his peers and in group situations.
“We spend so much time together in the spring and summer, it forces you to work well together. Envirothon teaches good work ethics, that you need to study to be prepared and put in the time for the national level,” he said.
Delaney said, “In general it helps have a more in depth understanding of how the world works around you.”
Quirrion said, “The environment is the third pillar of sustainability and arguably the most important. If we’re not environmentally friendly, it can’t help economically.”
Orion said, “We’re at a point in society where sustainable living is necessary for survival. The more people realize we’re dependent on the environment around us, the better chance we have of surviving.”
Daigle said Envirothon is a great opportunity to travel, learn about the land and the people who live there.
“I’ve learned things I otherwise would never know,” he said.