By Pam Harnden, Staff Writer
WILTON — Three teams from Spruce Mountain High School in Jay won the top three places at the Southwestern Regional Envirothon on Thursday at Kineowatha Park. The winning team also scored the highest in each of the competition’s five focus areas.
Spruce Mountain adviser Rob Taylor said, “I’m really pleased with my rookie team. This is their first time being at a competition like this.”
That rookie team had the second highest score in Forestry.
Spruce Mountain teams took the top three spots in Current Issue and Soils.
Tanna Herlihy, from the second place Spruce Mountain team, said, “I am so pumped right now!”
Jonathan Brenner, a member of the winning team, quipped, “We’re just sweeping along.”
The three Spruce Mountain teams will compete at the Maine Envirothon on May 25 at the Maine Lakes Science Center, 51 Willett Road, Bridgton.
Dirigo High School in Dixfield finished in fourth place among the 15 teams from Androscoggin, Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec, Oxford and Sagadahoc counties.
The Envirothon, a partnership between conservation districts and natural resource agencies, uses a hands-on approach for high school students to learn about the environment.
Students are tested on their knowledge of aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife. They must research an issue, create a poster and give an oral presentation on how they would address the issue. This year’s topic was Western Rangeland Management: Balancing Diverse Views.
Mt. Blue High School teacher Doug Hodum brought a team from Farmington for the first time in years. He teaches a small environmental science class and three months ago some of his students decided to give it a try.
“It’s a learning experience for the kids this year,” he said. “I may use it as the framework for the course next year.”
Junior Gabby Austin said, “I thought it was a great experience.”
Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District hosted the regional competition. Executive Director Rosetta White lined up the resource personnel and obtained money and food donations to provide a full lunch for everyone.
Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Charles Hulsey told the teams that Maine will host the national competition of the Wildlife Habitat Education Program in Bar Harbor in July.
Maine has never had a team, so a training and competition will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife headquarters in Gray. Four students will be selected there to represent Maine in July.
White was assisted by York, Androscoggin and Oxford counties district and Natural Resources Conservation Services personnel. Maine Association of Conservation District Envirothon Coordinator Josh Platt and Maine Association of Conservation District Envirothon Fundraiser Rebecca Jacobs led the Current Issue station. They were assisted by Franklin County Cooperative Extension’s Dave Fuller.
Taylor said, “It takes a lot of time and effort to pull this together. The kids really appreciate it.”
Spruce Mountain Scores
Focus area Team 1 Team 2 Team 3
Aquatics 93 81 53
Current Issue 81.83 80.44 73.2
Forestry 96 62 84
Soils 89 85.5 80
Wildlife 81 79.5 67
Total 440.83 388.44 357.2