Students from Richard Montgomery High School Finish Second in National ‘Envirothon’ Environmental and Natural Resource Conservation Problem-Solving Competition

by Patrick Herron

Per Montgomery County:
A team of students from Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville finished second in the recent national “Envirothon®,” and environmental and natural resource conservation problem-solving, teambuilding and leadership competition for high school students across the United States, Canada and China. The competition, which was held at Miami University in Oxford, Oh., incorporates STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) principles, experiential learning and hands-on outdoor field experiences.

The Richard Montgomery “Tree Troupe” team of Sienna Burns, Lynna Deng, Josh Goozman, Connor Palansky and Katie Yang, which in June won the Maryland State championship, finished second in the national competition to a team from Lexington, Mass. A team from Pinecrest, Fla., finished third.

Lissa Vincent, Richard Montgomery team’s teacher advisor, and Barry Burch, Maryland Envirothon program coordinator, accompanied the team to Ohio for the competition.

“I want to congratulate the students and advisor of the Richard Montgomery High School ‘Tree Troupe’ team on their Maryland State ‘Envirothon’ championship and recent second-place finish at nationals,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “There are few endeavors our young adults can engage in as important as finding solutions to combat climate change, promote sustainability and encourage conservation efforts. It is rewarding to know that our future environmental leaders are receiving an incredible foundation for their success through ‘Envirothon’ competitions.”

This year’s national competition, which is sponsored by the National Conservation Federation, had 40 teams. Throughout the week-long competition, students demonstrated their knowledge on soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry and wildlife management through written tests and interactive stations featuring Ohio’s natural resources. A special category this year was “waste management.”

The Richard Montgomery team has worked with Montgomery County’s Office of Agricultural Services, which is based in Derwood, and staff members from the Department Environmental Protection and the Montgomery Soil Conservation District. The Envirothon in Maryland is sponsored by the Maryland State Association of Soil Conservation Districts in partnership with high schools of Montgomery County Public Schools that apply for participation. More information about the local competition is available at https://mdenvirothon.org/events/.

In the national finals, the Richard Montgomery team finished first in three of the five testing categories (Wildlife, Aquatics and Waste Management) and fourth in the other two categories (Forestry and Soils). The second-place finish was the best-ever by a Maryland team in the national competition.

The winning NCF-Envirothon teams are awarded scholarships and prizes, with the top three scoring teams receiving $30,000 in total, thanks to the support of Smithfield Foods, Inc.

Envirothon challenges students to develop critical thinking skills to create inventive solutions to the complex local and global environmental and natural resource issues. Through the Envirothon, students are empowered to educate others, take action in their local communities, pursue higher academic study in environmental disciplines and to work toward careers in the environment, natural resources and conservation.

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