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Clear Spring FFA team wins state Envirothon

June 27, 2006|by JEFF SEMLER

What I did on my summer vacation. This is a common story line for the first week of school in many elementary schools across the county. While this type of sharing is not common in high school, six students from Clear Spring High School will have a great story to tell, anyway.

Last week a group of Clear Spring FFA members participated in the Maryland State Envirothon at the William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center in Brandywine, Md. In addition to participating, they won the competition. So what does all this mean?

First, let's deal with what an Envirothon is. Established in 1991, the objectives of the Maryland Envirothon are twofold - to test students' environmental knowledge and understanding of state resource issues and to instill a desire to learn more about the natural world.

There are five areas of study: Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife and a fifth issue. Each year the fifth issue changes, with the topic being selected by the international host.

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The first Envirothon competition was held in Pennsylvania in 1979. Since then, more than 30 states, Canada and Australia have embraced the program and sent teams to the international competition. The Maryland Envirothon is sponsored by the Maryland Association of Soil conservation Districts and the State Soil Conservation Committee. Contributors and supporters include the Maryland Departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Maryland Cooperative Extension, Garrett Community College, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The team from Clear Spring is made up of recent graduates Rebecca Funk, Sondra Lavigne and Derek Hanes, along with juniors Amy Ridenour and Brenna House (alternate) and sophomore Adam Reid. This team placed first in Aquatics, Forestry and the fifth issue, second in Wildlife and fourth in Soils.

This year's fifth environmental issue is "Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate." Each team's knowledge was tested under the supervision of foresters, soil scientists and wildlife specialists. Teamwork, problem-solving and presentation skills are evaluated as each team offers a panel of judges an oral presentation containing recommendations for solving an environmental challenge. The team with the highest cumulative total wins the competition and the opportunity to represent Maryland at the Canon Envirothon. The Washington County team scored 559.00 points out of a possible 600.

How did the team get to this point? Last fall, the team began to study the areas in order to prepare for the County Competition which was held at the Fairview Outdoor School on March 31. After winning the county competition, the work had just begun. The team continued to practice even after school had dismissed for the year. Each morning for the last few weeks, the team gathered at the CSHS Ag Department and continued to prepare. I guess the old adage, "you only get out of something what you put into it," holds true.

From here the team will continue to prepare for their trip to the Canon International competition, which will be held July 23-29 at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The students will be accompanied by teacher/advisers Susan Lowery and Terrie Shank. More than 50 teams from the United States and Canada are expected to compete.

Oh, the stories they will tell. I know they will represent Clear Spring, Washington County and Maryland well. Here is to wishing them well; luck they won't need, since study will fill their days.

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