High school students from throughout the state of Delaware descended on the University of Delaware’s Webb Farm to take part in the 22nd Envirothon, a team-based outdoor academic competition. The competition challenges high school students’ knowledge and practical application of aquatic ecology, forestry, soils and land use, wildlife, air quality, special environmental topics and public speaking. This year’s special topic was “Agricultural Soil and Water Conservation Stewardship” and the students traveled from four ecostations to explore horse and sheep pastures and the Cool Run tributary, and work on their public speaking in the Webb Farm stable. The goal of Envirothon is to prepare students to be future leaders in environmentally related careers, and provide knowledge about the environment. The competition provides experience in real world situations, which fosters sound decision making, problem solving and critical thinking skills. Rick Mickowski, a conservation planner and public outreach coordinator for the New Castle Conservation District and chair of Envirothon, said the event provides students valuable hands-on learning opportunities. “This gives the students a real-life experience out in the field, putting into practice what they’ve been learning through training workshops and in school and after school activities and it gives them the opportunity to be out on a working farm to answer questions about the environment,” said Mickowski. “It gives them a taste of what it’s like to be out in the real world and interact with resource professionals that do that work for a living.” Mickowski thanked Larry Armstrong, farm manager in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Scott Hopkins, farm superintendent, and all the farm staff for preparing Webb Farm for the event. Sponsored by the Delaware Association of Conservation Districts (DACD), a voluntary, non-profit association that coordinates conservation efforts statewide to focus on natural resource issues identified by Delaware’s three local districts, the Envirothon offers students monetary awards for higher education and commendable effort. Twenty-one teams, consisting of five students each, competed to rank in one of the top four spots, which offered students more than $3,000 in college scholarships and special team awards combined. In addition, cash awards totaling approximately $2,200 were given to the top seven teams. The winning team was Charter School of Wilmington Team A, marking the school’s 18th win in the event’s 22-year history, including an unbroken winning streak since 2002. Middletown FFA finished second and Charter School of Wilmington Team B finished third. The 21 competing Envirothon teams worked hard all school year to prepare for the event. Each team identified samples, took measurements and answered questions on various topics and also had to give a seven to 10-minute oral presentation on a scenario utilizing the nine steps of conservation planning to identify resource concerns and best management practices of a cropland and poultry farming operation. Each member of the winning team earned a $500 scholarship from the Delaware Envirothon, a $100 gift card and other prizes. The winning team will also receive an award plaque for their school and will represent Delaware at the National Conservation Foundation North American Envirothon at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmittsburg, Maryland, at the end of July. The second, third and fourth place teams received more than $1,670 in special team awards and cash prizes. Prizes in the form of gift cards and ribbons were awarded to the top seven teams. The official Envirothon results were: • First place: Charter School of Wilmington, Team A – Siddharth Gangrade, Catherine Yu, Connor Sweeney, Allen Wang, and Ashley Pennington. Team advisers: Rose Lounsbury and Greg Darone. • Second place: Middletown High School FFA – William Nylander, Ariana Gaston, Joshua Housler, Timothy Mulderrig, and Sara Collins. Team adviser: Jeff Billings. • Third place: Charter School of Wilmington, Team B – Adraitha Anne, A.J. Yuan, John Garcia, Elan Tran and Pooja Kaji. Team advisers: Rose Lounsbury and Greg Darone. • Fourth place: Peach Blossom 4-H Club – Oliver Menard, Lida Gannon, Reese Yost, Leslie Webb, Maci Carter, Drew Harris (alternate) and Adam Collier (alternate). Team adviser: Elaine Webb. • Fifth place: Charter School of Wilmington, Team C – Nicole Flowerhill, Tara Lennon, Eddie Huang, Priyanka Hoskere, and Harshitha Henry. Team advisers: Rose Lounsbury and Greg Darone. • Sixth place: A.I. du Pont High School, Team Clean Coal – Jan Castro, Mackenzie Crossley, Bethany DeGrotto, Julia Szymanski, Rachel Widom, Alicia Chen (alternate) and Sophie Girke (alternative). Team adviser: Amy Huebner. • Seventh place: MOT Charter, Mustangs Team A – Viktoria Brown, Shannon Hanggodo, Vishnusundar Somasundaram, Shachi Shah, Jalen Williams. Team adviser: Michelle Guenther. Since its inception, the Delaware Envirothon has awarded $55,000 in scholarships to 110 students. For more information about the Delaware Envirothon, visit the website or contact Rick Mickowski at 302-832-3100, ext. 8979. Article by Adam Thomas Photo by Wenbo Fan This article can also be viewed on UDaily.