By Jalen Wade
ST.MARY’S CITY – A team from Greenbelt’s Eleanor Roosevelt High School displayed their green thumb at this year’s Maryland Envirothon.
The Envirothon is a competition in which teams composed of five students compete in a variety of environmentally-focused events. These events include aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and a surprise fifth issue which changes each year. This year, the event was soil science.
The events require teams to utilize knowledge as well as practical skills to succeed. According to the event’s website, the Envirothon is “a fun and exciting way for high school students in grades 9-12 to learn about the natural world around us.”
This year’s Roosevelt team comprised of five students: Medora Creek, Angela Zhang, Kavya Ganesan, David Sanchez-Rosas and Sophia Riozi Sekowski. Their coaches were science teachers Gabrielle Sanchez and Breyer Hillegas.
According to Sanchez, those who tried out for the team had to write an essay and Hillegas would choose the new members based on how well-written their assignment was.
“It felt great because our expectations were really low. We wanted to make the top ten and we were really happy we at least made top five,” said Ganesan.
According to Event Coordinator Craig Hartsock, there were two levels to the event. Each team had to win their county-level event where they faced off against other Prince George’s County schools, before entering in the state level competition against teams from all over Maryland. As the county’s lone representative, Roosevelt came in at fifth place behind Calvert County in first, Montgomery in second, Harford in third and Carroll in fourth.
A total of 15 counties took place in the competition. The event was held at St. Mary’s College.
Sanchez said she was proud of how her team performed. The science teacher stated that her team performed best in environment and agriculture as well as the forestry event. She claimed that they could have done better in the events for aquatics and soil sciences. Despite this, she feels the event was a good learning experience.
“It was a learning experience for everyone,” said Sanchez. “They had to figure out how to work together, how to assess new questions. They had done the county competition but this was the state competition so the questions were new and they had to work together to problem-solve and answer new questions.”
In the past, the Envirothon helped raise awareness and students interest in the environment. According to Hartsock, some of the contestants have gone on to gain jobs working in the environment.
“In the past, we’ve seen a number of students go onto college and gotten careers in the natural resources career,” said Hartsock. “There are some that are park rangers in Maryland, there are some that are foresters. It’s definitely sparked an interest in getting involved in an outdoor resources career.”
The event also assists with scholarship money. According to Hartsock, the top three teams each receive a sum of scholarship money that is divided among its members.
“There’s five students on each team so the first-place team, each person gets $500 scholarships, the second place gets $300 and the third place gets $200. It’s not a big scholarship but every little bit helps,” said Hartsock.
As for next year, Sanchez will have to find new members to replace the ones that are leaving.
“I have four students who graduated, so they’re attending college. The remaining team members are going to be on the team next year so we’re looking to fill the four open slots with the same essay method,” said Sanchez.