Winters Mill junior Nate Ostrum feels the consistency of soil in his hands while participating in the 2012 Carroll County Envirothon at Hashawha Environmental Area in Westminster Wednesday.
Winters Mill junior Nate Ostrum feels the consistency of soil in his hands while participating in the 2012 Carroll County Envirothon at Hashawha Environmental Area in Westminster Wednesday. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

Regardless of how their teams scored, students participating in the 2012 Carroll Envirothon Wednesday said they enjoyed the education they get from participating in the event.

Eight teams from seven of Carroll's high schools and club Venturing Crew 202, a coed offshoot of the Boy Scouts of America, gathered at Hashawha Environmental Center in Westminster Wednesday to take tests in forestry, wildlife, aquatics, soils and a fifth issue that changes every year. This year's special topic was low impact development and nonpoint source pollution.

Travis Rugemer, a junior at Manchester Valley High School, said he wants to have a career in environmental design, and the low impact development issue this year gave him the most hands-on experience in that field that he's ever had.

"You can't learn all this stuff in a classroom, you have to go out and do it," Rugemer said.

For this subject area, the teams took a written test on the topic, but also had to give a presentation to a panel of judges using a plan for a building that they were given ahead of time but then had to rework to make it more environmentally friendly, Rugemer said.

Mark Covington, of the county bureau of resource management, said the plan that the students were working with was an actual plan in the development review process at the county. One of the judges on the panel is from the company that submitted the plan, he said, and got to hear the feedback from the students on how it could be adjusted to make less impact on the environment.

"I know it was a challenging thing I asked you guys to do," Covington told the students after the competition was over, but said he was very impressed with their ideas.

Nick Lewis, of Century High School, said the low impact design topic was his favorite subject area in the competition. Lewis said he wants to be a civil engineer, and he believes knowing about this area will be beneficial in his future career.

Emily Dotterer, a senior at Winters Mill High School, said she is in AP biology and has found that her class has helped her in the Envirothon. She also learned a lot through the Envirothon training day, she said, so it has been reciprocal.

"Going here helps out for those classes as well, and it definitely helps us feel like we're applying what we've learned," she said.

Maddie Hose, a junior at Liberty High School, said Envirothon isn't just for kids that already know about the environment.

"People that wouldn't know this, they come here and they learn about it," she said. "It's nice that people take time out of the day to come and teach us."

Austin Lecompte, a junior at Manchester Valley, said the event gives participants an education and appreciation about their role in protecting the environment.

"You learn new ways to improve the environment and the world we live in," he said.

At the end of the full-day event, Ed Null, of the Carroll Soil Conservation District, announced the winners. Francis Scott Key placed third, Century High second and Venturing Crew 202 came in first, for the 11th year in a row.

Venturing Crew team member Natalie Agee said the team had a lot of new members this year, and they felt the pressure of upholding their team's legacy.

Sean Baldwin, who also served on the Venturing Crew team last year and as an alternate the previous year, said it was a tough contest Wednesday.

"It was like a completely different team, and the fifth issue was much harder than the other years," he said.

The Venturing Crew team will go on to take part in the state competition at St. James School in St. James June 20-21.