By Pam Harnden, Staff Writer
JAY — A Spruce Mountain High School team has earned the right to attend the National Conservation Foundation-Envirothon in Pocatello, Idaho, from July 22-28.
Team 1 members Bryan Riley, Orion Schwab, Jonathan Brenner, Hunter Quirrion and Jordan Daigle were the high scorers in aquatics, soils, wildlife and current issues at the Maine Envirothon on May 25 in Bridgton.
Of the 10 teams competing, Spruce Mountain Envirothon Team 1 placed first and Teams 2 and 3 finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
It was the fourth consecutive state win for a Spruce Mountain team, but it was bittersweet for Team 1. Riley will not be attending the national competition because he has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, team adviser Rob Taylor said.
“Bryan Riley is a huge asset, a big part of why we’ve won at states the last two years,” Taylor said. “We want him to be safe. The travel involved would not be in his best interest.
“The team will really miss him this summer. He knows environmental science,” Taylor said.
Riley has been part of Envirothon for four years, and last year he traveled to the national Envirothon in Maryland.
“Bryan had a fantastic time in Maryland,” Taylor said, but “driving 13 hours was a challenge.”
Riley has assisted with water testing at Moose Hill Pond, Livermore Falls’ public water source. He was part of a tree survey collaboration between Spruce Mountain Envirothon teams and the Farmington Conservation Commission.
Riley has attended the Maine Conservation School in Bryant Pond each summer throughout his school years. This year he will be a counselor, which factored into his not going to Idaho.
“Bryan is giving back to that program,” Taylor said. “He’s learned a ton there. It’s part of his success in Envirothon.”
Taylor said Rylee Delaney will fill in for Riley in Idaho.
The team is studying and fundraising for the trip, which will cost $7,000.
The Envirothon is a hands-on approach for high school students to learn about the environment. Students must research a current issue, create a poster and give an oral presentation on how to address it. This year’s topic was Western Rangeland Management: Balancing Diverse Views. Because Maine lacks rangeland, students focused on pastureland management.
For more information or to help, email Taylor at email@example.com.