Students from Celebration High School in Osceola County have placed first for the third year-in-a-row in the annual Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Regional Envirothon competition held February 7, 2019 at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando.
The 5-member winning team was made up of seniors Julian Landin, Matthew Eynan, Andrew Hiesinger, Spencer Schmidt, and Mason Theurer.
Envirothon is a hands-on, natural resources educational program for high school students held nationwide, including in Central Florida.
During the field event, teams work together to answer written questions and conduct active-participation projects focusing on environmental issues.
Lorie Thuesen has advised and trained local teams from Celebration High School for 14 years.
“This team started studying and preparing to compete when they were just freshmen,” said Thuesen who teaches Advanced Placement Environmental Science at Celebration. “They are very competitive and were inspired by older siblings who won past Envirothons themselves. It was as simple as they wanted to beat an older brother or sister.”
One of the several sponsors of Envirothon is Toho Water Authority.
“We always love getting involved with these events,” said Mark Grayson, Toho Water Authority Public Information Office communications specialist. “You see the enthusiasm these young men and women have in the subjects of science and engineering.”
Forty-four teams from 14 high schools in the three counties participated in this year’s competition.
“Many students have never seen the inside of a tree trunk or understand the negative impact of evasive, non-native trees on plant diversity,” said Dana Sussmann, senior forester, Florida Forest Service, who works in four Central Florida counties from an office in Orange County.
A total of 176 high school students rotated between five stations situated in areas around Leu Gardens. Each stop posed a different challenge in the topics of aquatics, soils, forestry, wildlife, and rangeland. Some of the activities included identifying soil types, recognizing non-native evasive plants, and answering multiple-choice questions.
The high schools received study manuals and guides months in advance to allow preparation time.
The winner of the regional competition is eligible to send a team to the Florida state event and then represent Florida at the North American Envirothon in July, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Engineers and scientists are our leaders of the future,” said Larry Allen Schneck, chairman of Osceola County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors. “These young adults are going to show us new ways to solve current problems.”
The OSWCD Board of Supervisors meets in the University of Florida Extension Services Office at Osceola Heritage Park. Meeting notices and information about its work is available at www.osceolaswcd.org or call (407) 847-4465 Extension 3 and mobile (765) 444-7713.