- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A team of five students from Leonardtown High School again this year won the St. Mary’s County Envirothon and have earned a crack at the state competition this summer.
There were 10 teams competing Wednesday from St. Mary’s high schools: three each from Leonardtown and Chopticon and two each from Great Mills and St. Mary’s Ryken.
The winning team from Leonardtown included students Josh Hall, Joanna Lewis, Rachel Henn, Taylor Engdahl and Jennifer Carlson.
That team came in first with a combined score of 447 out of a possible 500 points. The five students will travel to Western Maryland in late June for the state Envirothon competition.
Lewis and Henn, Leonardtown seniors, were on the team two years ago that went on to win the state competition.
“We just put together the best team we could and are hoping for the best,” Lewis said Wednesday during the competition.
She said all of the team had participated before and that experience goes a long way in the Envirothon.
“They’ve been working real hard. They put a lot of hours into training for this,” teacher Kim Egbert said. The Leonardtown Envirothon team’s coach said the students meet once a week after schools to review a specific topic that might come up during the competition.
The Envirothon tests students’ knowledge and field expertise on five topics: forestry, soils, aquatics, wildlife and a fifth “wild card” issue that changes from year to year.
This year’s fifth issue is rangeland management, and it’s a doozy, coaches said.
Egbert said the topic has been the “hardest to grasp” for the students, especially since range lands are not really part of the regional environment here. The issue covers a wide number of topics, from structures of grasses to anatomy of grazing animals.
The issue does fit in perfectly with where the North American championship will be held — Montana.
Samantha Lyon-Carpenter, a sophomore from Chopticon, is on a team with other first-time participants. She said Wednesday about midway through the competition that it was a little difficult, but that she was enjoying the experience.
“Our teams are all very new,” Great Mills teacher and Envirothon coach Kristin Zelenakas said. “And they’re amazing.”
The Great Mills teams drew heavily on students from the school’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics academy. The coach said the environmental science focus ties in nicely with the academy and gives the students a chance to use science hands-on in the field.
Zelenakas is moving from the county after this school year and will have to retire as the team’s nine-year veteran coach. Her assistant coach, teacher Jean Illingworth, plans to take over.
The event was again held this year at Hunters Hill Farm in Leonardtown. Liliane Jarboe, the farm’s owner, visited the competition midday Wednesday. “I just go and say hi to the people,” she said.
She said her late husband, former county commissioner Robert Jarboe, was pleased to offer up use of the farm for the competition.
“Robert liked the Envirothon and he was very proud of the team” from Leonardtown that won the state competition two years ago, she said.
She said the teams are welcome to come back each year.
This is the 20th year for the local Envirothon. Students train throughout the fall and winter with their coaches and natural resources professionals for the April competition, which is sponsored by the St. Mary’s County Soil Conservation District, with assistance from businesses and other organizations.