Harford Christian repeats as state Envirothon champions

Harford Christian School won its second consecutive Maryland Envirothon recently, its third overall state championship in the past five years, and will represent the state in the North American Envirothon in August.

The Darlington school's five-member team took part in the two-day state competition, held June 19 and 20 at the Western Maryland 4-H Camp in Garrett County.

Harford Christian won the first of its three state Envirothon titles in 2008, according to a news release. The school placed seventh in last year's North American competition.

The students, including recent graduates Danielle Fiedler and Hunter Howell, rising seniors Maddie Feustel and Gracie Shannahan, and rising junior Danielle Reifer, will travel to Bozeman, Mont., in early August to compete against state and provincial winners from across the U.S. and Canada in the 26th annual North American Envirothon program.

"We're going to try to do our very best to represent the state well," Ada Stambaugh, Harford Christian's Envirothon advisor and an environmental science teacher, said Monday.

The team will travel to Montana Aug. 3; the competition takes place from Aug. 4 to 9 at Montana State University.

"It's a pretty intense week," Stambaugh said.

As they did in the Harford County competition in May, and the state competition, the students must demonstrate their knowledge in the categories of aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife, as well as an environmental issue known as the Fifth Topic.

The Fifth Topic is set by the state or province which is hosting the North American competition, and since this year's competition is in Montana, the Fifth Topic will be "Sustainable Rangeland Management," according to the North American Envirothon website.

The students have made presentations on how they would resolve rangeland issues at the county and state levels.

The Harford Christian team members spent weeks preparing for the state Envirothon, which including identifying plants and animals native to Western Maryland, very different from the native Harford County species, and they will spend the next six weeks studying for the North American competition.

"In six weeks they have to learn volumes of new material," Stambaugh said.

She noted Howell was the only veteran member of this year's team, the first student to be part of a state championship team two years in a row. Stambaugh was also impressed with the efforts of the other four team members in their first time at state, where they were competing among 17 counties.

"It just made the win very exciting for us," she said.

Harford Christian's overall score was 461 points, 31 points ahead of the second-place winners from Carroll County.

"This is a pretty strong team going to represent the state of Maryland this year," Stambaugh said.

The North American Envirothon is sponsored by Canon USA Inc. Other sponsors include the National Association of Conservation Districts in the U.S., the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, along with several provincial Forestry Associations in Canada. The Envirothon is the largest national high school environmental education project of its kind. Maryland schools began participation in 1990 and have consistently placed teams in the top 10 at the national finals, according to the news release.

Harford Christian team members each won a $500 cash prize for the win plus a proclamation from the governor, in addition to the right to carry home the state trophy for the second year running, the news release stated.

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