Fourteen Haywood Envirothon teams compete in regional event

Special to The Mountaineer
By Gail Heathman | Apr 05, 2013
Photo by: Donated photos Pictured above, Bethel Blue Oaks team members examine a yellow bellied slider (turtle) — Gabriel Frazier, Milas Trull and Jonas Sheehan (not pictured, team member Desmond Worrell). In the background is Sophia Masciarelli, a WMS student. Below, WMS Wacky Water Weasels testing is shown with Natalie Swaim, Sophia Masciarelli, Valerie Ashe and Lauren Trader.

The Area 1 Envirothon, one of the most popular environmental competitions offered by soil and water conservation districts, was held at the Mountain Research Station and, unlike last year, even the capricious spring weather cooperated. It’s safe to say that all 242 participants appreciated the sunshine, from the students to their advisors to the resource experts there to share their knowledge about natural resources. After all, if soil, forestry, wildlife and aquatics are the topics of discussion, what better place to learn than outdoors among those very resources, seated on a tarp?

During Envirothon, teams with interesting names like Enviro Chics, Aquatards, Wacky Water Weasels and Bethel Blue Oaks rotated among five stations where they attended presentations by equally interesting resource folks wearing waders, displaying animal skulls, handing out Monopoly money or standing in a three-foot deep soil pit.

Haywood students and the teachers who serve as advisors have maintained an lively enthusiasm for Envirothon, with 14 middle and high school teams competing against 25 other teams from surrounding counties this year. Although budgets are tight for everyone these days, fortunately the Haywood District has had grant funding (shared with the Madison and Buncombe SWCD’s) thanks to The Pigeon River Fund, making it much easier to say yes when students and teachers want to compete.

As with many soil and water educational events, the Area Envirothon is a qualifying event with the winners advancing to the next level — in this case, the North Carolina Envirothon. On April 19, roughly 100 teams from across the state will meet at Burlington’s Cedarock Park to test their environmental expertise. Four Haywood teams – 3 middle school and 1 high school — will join 10 other top WNC teams in representing the Area 1 Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.  Two top Tuscola teams that had competed together for years faced a difficult choice this year between the prom and the state Envirothon. Reluctantly, members of the Aquatards and Finest Scientists chose the prom, but on a positive note, their choice made state competition possible for a younger THS team, The Inner Circle.

With highest ranking teams listed first, the following Haywood Envirothon teams were:

• High school

Finest Scientists: (THS) Chloe Zacher, Allie Dinwiddie, Tess Steele, Maggie Rogers, Maddy Thurman — Sue Miller, Advisor

Aquatards: (THS) Kayla Campbell, Ally Anderson, Lindsay Barth, Fisher Charlton, Helena Hunt — Mark Ethridge, Advisor

The Inner Circle: (THS) Megan Lapkoff, Marguerite Leek, Allison Melrose, Nevin Cox, Riley Howell — Sue Miller, Advisor

Cane Toads: (PHS) Christina Harvey, Megan Barrett, Anna Turbyfill, Luke Dillard — Steve Wyatt, Advisor

Enviro Chics: (THS) Alysia Plafcan, Alex Hefner, Morgan Trantham, Lindsay Kihnel, Johanno Cano — Mark Ethridge, Advisor

Haywood 4-H: Nicole Carpenter, Rachel Warren, Lindsey Wicker — Amy Warren, Advisor

Awesome O’pposum (THS) Connor Pressel, Julia Turpin, Megan Massie, Tate Powell —Sue Miller, Advisor

• Middle school

Wacky Water Weasels: (WMS) Lauren Trader, Valerie Ashe, Hannah Litty, Sophia Masciarelli, Natalie Swaim — Natalie Howell, advisor

The Red Chipmunks: (CMS) Thea Boone, Dominique Medford, Jordan Humbird, Cecelia Tucker, Carli Stiles — Janet Frazier, advisor

Bethel Blue Oaks: (BMS) Gabriel Frazier, Jonas Sheehan, Desmond Worrell, Milas Trull – Janet Frazier and Dee Boone, advisors

The Pigeons (BMS) Tori Chambers, Camille Carr, Olivia Hunter, Holly Warren, Savannah McKay — Janet Frazier and Dee Boone, advisors

Wild Turkeys: (CMS) Kaitlin Moore, Brooke Garland, Coby Hendrie, Ashley Trull, Cydnie Pressley — Janet Frazier, advisor

Enviromasters: (CMS) Eric Goode, Enrique Muro-Castillo, Harley Medford, Nicholas Kalev, Chance Best — Janet Frazier, advisor

Red Wolf Howling Beauties: (WMS) Afton Bryan, Elizabeth Flowe, Mackenzie Flowe, Virginia Fry, Rose Leek — Natalie Howell, advisor

The Area 1 Envirothon was sponsored by the Area 1 Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts with assistance from Davis Ferguson, Area 1 Coordinator, NCDA & CS.

The Area 1 Education Committee is grateful to Kaleb Rathbone and staff at the Mountain Research Station (NCDA&CS) for allowing the event to be held at the Station.

Resource professionals who manned the stations were:

Aquatics: Eric Romaniszyn and Jane Fitzgerald, Haywood Waterways Association

Current Environmental Issues: Blair Ogburn, Balsam Mountain Trust and Keith Bamberger, Division of Air Quality, NCDENR

Forestry: Susan Fay and Tim Fleming, Holmes Educational State Forest

Soils: Kent Clary, Soil Scientist/Natural Resources Conservation Service and William Miller, Soil Scientist/NC Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Wildlife: Patrick Farrell, NC Wildlife Resources Commission and Dave Dudek, Southwest Resource Conservation and Development

Gail Heathman is education co-odinator for the Haywood SWCD.