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Walkersville teens take top honors at Md. Envirothon

June 26, 2007

ANNAPOLIS - A five-member team of high school students from Walkersville High School in Frederick County is the winner of the 16th annual Maryland Envirothon, the state Department of Agriculture said.

More than 100 challengers from 19 counties across Maryland took part in this year's competition. The event was held June 19-21 at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne.

"It is great to see such a sincere interest in the science side of the environment," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Earl F. Hance during the awards ceremony.

"With the strong leadership and scientific expertise I've seen today from these students, the outlook for our natural resources and agricultural industry is indeed very bright."

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Envirothon is an outdoor natural resources competition that challenges students to identify and categorize living resources, perform soil surveys and solve other complex natural resource issues.

As winners of the Maryland Envirothon, Walkersville High School team members Lindsay Keeney, Evelyn Michael, Hanna Poffenbarger, Chris Higgs, and Chris Keiser will represent the state at the 2007 Canon Envirothon,

It will be held at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., from July 29 to Aug. 4. The students will be accompanied by teachers/advisors Sue Faibisch and Barry Burch.

More than 50 teams from the United States and Canada are expected to compete at the national event, according to a press release from the state agricultural department. During the past five years, it said, Maryland teams have consistently placed in the top 10 percent at national competitions.

In preparation for the annual Envirothon, teams of five students and one or two alternates, students are trained and tested in four natural resource areas including soils, aquatics, forestry and wildlife plus an environmental issue that changes from year to year. This year's special environmental issue was Renewable/Alternative Energy.

Each team's knowledge is 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.

At this year's competition the Walkersville High School team scored 527.50 points out of a possible 600, the state Department of Agriculture said.

It said they were followed by teams from Carroll County (522.67 points), Harford County (517.33 points), Montgomery County (491.83), and Allegany County (484.30) points.

Members of the top three teams were awarded scholarships ranging form $200 to $500 through the Chaney Foundation Scholarship program. In addition, winning team members received wildlife prints, fleece vest and other prizes.

The Harford Christian High School was the high scorer in the "soils" category of the competition with a score of 96 points out of a possible 100. The Mid-Atlantic Association of Professional Soil Scientists (MAPSS) presented each member of the team with a cash award of $50. In addition, the team received a print and lanyards.

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, the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, Garrett College, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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