Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon teams placed first, second and fifth at the State Envirothon Competition May 31 in Augusta. Pictured from left are advisor Rob Taylor with first place team members Hunter Quirrion, Gabrielle Beaudoin, Natalie Luce, Orion Schwab and Jonathan Brenner. Submitted photo

JAY — The Spruce Mountain Envirothon Program had a busy two days on May 31st and June 1st.

The three Spruce Mountain took 1st, 2nd, and 5th at the Maine Envirothon State Championship on Friday, then spent most of Saturday on the roads and in the woods conducting a community watershed survey with a group of local volunteers and community officials.

Envirothon Advisor Rob Taylor said, “It was a very hectic but rewarding 48 hours. This is such a great group of kids to work with!”

The Envirothon State Finals were held at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Nature Center in Augusta, a fairly new facility that is being developed by SAM. Teams competed near a trout pond, surrounded by woods and fields of clover that support local deer and wildlife populations, with a pair of osprey circling overhead tending to their brood in a huge nest on a power pole.

“It was a beautiful day on a great site for the competition,” said Taylor.

Envirothon is a competition involving outdoor field tests in aquatic ecology, soils, forestry, wildlife, and this year’s current issue, Agricultural Technology. Each area is scored on a 100 point scale, for a total of 500 points. The tests are very challenging.

Last summer at the National Conservation Foundation Envirothon in Idaho, team member Orion Schwab remarked, “I think the tests in Maine were harder than the ones we had in Idaho.”

Members of the Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon team that placed second at the State Envirothon Competition May 31 in Augusta from left are Scott Jackson, Acacia Fournier, Drew Delaney, Abigail Thurston and Connor Beaulieu. Submitted photo

This year’s Maine Envirothon was equally challenging.

Spruce Mountain Team 1 won the event with a score of 416.09. The all senior Spruce Mountain Team 1 qualified for the National Conservation Foundation Envirothon at North Carolina State University from July 28th – August 2nd and consists of Orion Schwab, Jonathan Brenner, Hunter Quirrion, Natalie Luce, and Gabrielle Beaudoin.

Spruce Mountain Team 2, featuring sophomore Drew Delaney and Juniors Abi Thurston, Scott Jackson, Connor Beaulieu, and Acacia Fournier took second with a score of 405.57.

Spruce Mountain Team 3, composed of sophomore Jack Gilbert and freshmen Kaila Godbey, Ella Plourde, Leah Gilbert, and Liam Brewster took 5th place with a score of 322.16 out of 500.

After returning home Friday afternoon, a number of team members volunteered at the History Night sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, where they played music, prepared food, provided first aid, and did demonstrations with the SMART Robotics Team.

Saturday morning came early, as team members came back to school to do a survey of the Parker Pond and Moose Hill Pond watersheds. Delaney, Schwab, and Brenner have been working most of the school year helping plan the event and working with fellow steering committee members Livermore Falls Water District Superintendent Scott Greenleaf, Town of Jay Code Enforcement Officer Ronda Palmer, Planning Board Members Barbara Cook and Mike Fournier, and Envirothon Advisor Rob Taylor.

A watershed survey of Moose Hill and Parker Ponds was conducted Saturday, June 1. Participants included front to back and left to right Barbara Cook (Jay Planning Board), Alex Wong (Maine Rural Water), Connor Beaulieu (Envirothon), Parker Beaulieu (Envirothon), Liam Brewster (Envirothon). Second row Owen Schwab (Envirothon), Abigail Thurston (Envirothon), Natalie Luce (Envirothon), Ronda Palmer (Jay Code Enforcement Officer), Kaila Godbey (Envirothon), Orion Schwab (Envirothon), Rylee Delaney (Envirothon Alumnus). Back row Nickolas Bray (Community Member), Ken Baker (SMHS Biology Teacher), Gabrielle Beaudoin (Envirothon), Drew Delaney (Envirothon), Rob Taylor (Envirothon Advisor), Sarah Delaney (Community Member), Taylor Guay (Envirothon) and Jonathan Brenner (Envirothon). Volunteers not pictured: Randy and Mary Luce. Submitted photo

The project has been supported by Lake Stewards of Maine, Main Land Development Inc., Maine Rural Water and the Livermore Falls Water District. The day began with training provided by resource professional Alex Wong of Maine Rural Water and was followed by teams of community volunteers and Envirothon students trekking throughout the watersheds searching for signs of runoff and erosion that can lead to phosphorus entering the two ponds, which provide our communities with drinking water.

Phosphorus can lead to problematic algal blooms. Preliminary reports were very positive, with relatively few problems found and a few issues discovered that can be addressed to preserve water quality. The group plans to analyze the data collected and will publish a report of their findings early next fall.

“Having students do real-world citizen science, such as the watershed survey, collecting water quality data, growing produce in the school greenhouse for the food pantry, working with the Androscoggin Land Trust, and other projects really helps the kids make meaningful connections to content,” Taylor explained. “That is why Envirothon comes to the kids so naturally. It also helps them see the value of giving back to the community and most of the students are also members of our local LEOs community service club, supported by the Jay–Livermore Falls Lions.

“Someday these young leaders may be serving on planning boards or elected to public office to serve their communities. The experiences they get now should help them in the future.”

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