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Local Envirothon team excels at competition

By PRESTON WATSON • May 5, 2018 at 12:00 PM

COLLINS — Western Reserve High School recently traveled to the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds to compete in Ohio’s Area Two Envirothon contest.

The Roughriders competed April 26 against 50 other schools from northeast Ohio.  

A competitive outdoor team event, the Envirothon tests students’ knowledge of soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatic ecology and current environmental issues. It also encourages cooperative decision-making and team-building. While each student on a team is challenged to contribute his or her personal best, the score that counts at the end  is the team score.

Five area Envirothons are conducted around Ohio each spring. The top four teams from these competitions progress to the Ohio Envirothon in June.

The state-level contest is held in a different part of Ohio each year. The top-scoring team in the Ohio Envirothon is eligible to compete in the national envirothon, hosted by a different state each year.

Western Reserve sent two teams made up of eight participants.

The “white” team members were: Rebecca Krisha, Preston Watson, Aiden Fry Silva and Luke Rowlinson. The “blue” team members were: Sam Beaudin, Elyse Blankenship, Aliyah Perez and Lane Wetzel.

“These students should be congratulated and challenged to improve on today's results,” said Lee Rowlinson, science teacher and Envirothon adviser.

The “white” team placed fifth overall in the competition and earned the distinction of being an alternate team for state. The students also tied for first place in the forestry portion and were recognized with medallions at the awards recognition at the conclusion.

Norwalk placed 19th.

Advised by Rowlinson and Mark Starkey, the Western students have been practicing and studying throughout the school year.

Krisha and Watson placed first as individuals at a forestry contest in Crawford County in September while leading the Western team to a first-place finish. It served as a training competition for the Envirothon.

Students recently traveled to the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve in Huron to have first-hand experience about the ecosystem that the estuary represents.


Moving on to state

Since the competition, the Western Reserve students have been awaiting news from the area contest concerning their fate of moving on with their fifth-place finish as an alternate team for the state contest.

As a result of one of the top four area teams withdrawing from state, the Western Reserve team now will replace that team. The top four teams from the five area competitions in Ohio automatically qualify for the state contest and compete as the top-20 Envirothon teams across the state.

This year’s state competition will be hosted by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts on the campus of Cedarville University in Cedarville on June 11 and 12. It is a two-day format with site-testing contest and oral presentation preparation and concludes the next morning with the oral presentation competition. The awards banquet and recognition of top scoring teams will follow with a luncheon June 12. 

The winner of the state contest will earn the right to represent Ohio at the National Conservation Foundation Envirothon. This competition includes students from the United States, Canada and China, putting their skills to the test at the world’s largest high school-level natural resources education competition.

It should be noted that none of the students on the team are seniors. They said they’re excited to see how far they can make it next year together with another year worth of experience.

State team members who will travel to Cedarville to represent Western Reserve and Huron County include: Krisha, Watson, Fry Silva, Wetzel and Rowlinson.

These students have achieved a goal set before them several years ago and marks the highest placing at an area competition by a Western Reserve team and the distinction of being the first team from Collins to participate in the state contest.

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