Four in a row for La Plata with Evi­rothon win

Fourt-time cham­pion moves to state en­vi­ron­men­tal sciences com­pe­ti­tion in June

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

La Plata High School has racked up its fourth con­sec­u­tive first place win in the Charles County En­vi­rothon, held Thurs­day at Gil­bert Run Re­gional Park in Char­lotte Hall.

The an­nual en­vi­ron­men­tal sciences com­pe­ti­tion pits teams of high school stu­dents against each other in an out­door set­ting to iden­tify and cat­e­go­rize plants and an­i­mals, per­form soil sur­veys and com­plete other chal­lenges.

The Charles County event, now in its 24th year, is spon­sored by the Charles County Soil Con­ser­va­tion District.

The event fea­tures five sta­tions where stu­dents must an­swer a se­ries of ques­tions on wildlife, aquatic life, soil, forestry and a fifth topic, which this year was agri­cul­ture soil and wa­ter con­ser­va­tion stew­ard­ship, said Dee Dee Saun­ders, ad­min­is­tra­tive spe­cial­ist for the Soil Con­ser­va­tion District and judge of the county En­vi­rothon for 10 years.

Teams of stu­dents had 35 min­utes to work at each sta­tion, using the hands-on ma­te­ri­als pro­vided, Saun­ders said.

Each school has a club ded­i­cated to en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues that pre­pares for the an­nual event, Saun­ders said.

“We have three train­ings that they come to, in Wal­dorf, at our soil con­ser­va­tion farm,” Saun­ders said.

Each school had two teams ex­cept for St. Charles, which had one team.

La Plata fin­ished first, with a com­pos­ite score of 455. Mau­rice J. McDonough High School fin­ished sec­ond with a com­pos­ite score of 422, and North Point High School fin­ished third with a com­pos­ite score of 385.

La Plata placed first in aquat­ics, forestry, soils and wildlife, which McDonough placed first in the fifth topic.

The top two teams get a framed pic­ture as a tro­phy, as well as Tar­get gift cards for each stu­dent. The first place team also re­ceived soil district hats, Saun­ders said.

La Plata will also rep­re­sent Charles County at the Mary­land En­vi­rothon, which is be­ing held at Camp Pe­cometh in Cen­tre­ville, June 15-16.

The state win­ner will go on to com­pete against teams from across the United States and Canada at the 2017 North Amer­i­can En­vi­rothon, be­ing held this year at Mount St. Mary’s Univer­sity in Em­mits­burg July 23 through 29.

La Plata spon­sor Shawn Starcher said in an email that she was ex­tremely proud of her stu­dents for their hard work and ded­i­ca­tion.

“I sim­ply can­not ex­press how grate­ful I am to have the op­por­tu­nity to work with such ded­i­cated and thought­ful young men and women like these stu­dents on my En­vi­rothon team. The sheer num­ber of hours and ded­i­ca­tion they have shown to this com­pe­ti­tion truly paid off for them this year,” Starcher said. “I am un­be­liev­ably proud of these kids and so very hon­ored that I get the chance to work with them in grow­ing their knowl­edge of the world and the abun­dance of sci­ence that sur­rounds us all here in beau­ti­ful Charles County, Mary­land.”

Katie Parker, a se­nior at McDonough, took part in Thurs­day’s En­vi­rothon for the fourth and fi­nal time. She said she first be­came in­volved be­cause her coach, Karena Bennett, was a friend of her mother.

“She said ‘You should join this; it’s pretty fun and you get to learn about a bunch of dif­fer­ent things re­lated to the en­vi­ron­ment.’ It’s been re­ally cool,” Parker said.

Saun­ders said she hopes the ex­pe­ri­ence will ghelp stu­dents have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

“Some of them, it’s go­ing to give them some pro­fes­sional train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause some of them may be in­ter­ested as a ca­reer, whether it be in nat­u­ral re­sources, or they may go into ur­ban de­vel­op­ment, or they may glean some­thing else from it as well,” Saun­ders said.

STAFF PHOTOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

La Plata High School se­nior Paige Up­right works to iden­tify bird species in the 24th An­nual Charles County En­vi­rothon, held Thurs­day at Gil­bert Run Re­gional Park.

La Plata High School se­niors Sab­rina My­ers, Robert Yo­rio and Kaylin Back­burn, and sopho­more Bran­don Starcher work to iden­tify a tree species dur­ing the 24th An­nual Charles County En­vi­rothon.

West­lake High School stu­dents Cait­lyn Collins, Emma Lar­mon, Alayna Call, Gil­lian Gib­son and Robert Proby work on prob­lems in the soil sta­tion of the Charles County En­vi­rothon Thurs­day.

North Point High School stu­dents Am­ber Wa­chowski and Carl Wa­chowski work to iden­tify the species of aquatic crea­tures at the 24th An­nual Charles County En­vi­rothon Thurs­day.

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