The Spruce Mountain High School Enivrothon team will be competing at the National Conservation Foundation Envirothon in Ohio July 24-30. Seen during a practice current issue presentation on July 13 from left are team members Leah Burgess, Brenden Veilleux, Dan Wilson, Abrahm Geissinger and Owen Schwab. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Since winning the state competition in June, the Spruce Mountain High School Green Team has been busy preparing for the National Conservation Foundation Envirothon at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, July 24 – 30.

On Wednesday, July 13, the team shared a presentation similar to one they will give at the upcoming competition. For their current issue scenario they explained various factors involved in the waste management plan they had developed for Dayton, Ohio. The presentation was about twice as long as the 20 minutes allowed at the national competition.

“Envirothon is kind of a strange thing,” team advisor Rob Taylor said. “It is very, very hard to describe to people what we actually do. Envirothon has five areas. Soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife those happen every year. Then there is a fifth called current issue – the topic changes each year.”

The current issue this year is Waste to Resources.

“The kids are given a problem scenario and they have to develop a solution,” Taylor said. “Envirothon is meant to be very, very place specific. When we do Envirothon here in Maine we learn about Maine, fish, soils and forests.”

For Maine, teams were asked to pretend they were environmental scientists working for a lake association to develop a waste management plan for that watershed.


“[The team] will be going to Ohio a week from Saturday, basically they had to relearn everything from the ground up,” Taylor said. “Instead of knowing Maine trees, they need to know all the trees of Ohio. There are 69 different species of trees in Ohio. About 30 of those are in Maine too, there are 39 species we don’t even have. The same thing with Ohio’s wildlife, aquatics, soils.

“Half of Ohio soils are unglaciated, completely different kind of soils than we have in Maine because all of Maine is glaciated soil.”

There are other differences at the national competition for the current issue. For regional and state competitions teams are given the problem scenario ahead of time, determine their solution prior to competing and use posters to explain their approach.

“A week from next Thursday [the team] will get locked in a dorm room without advisors and given the prompt scenario,” Taylor said. “They will have two to three hours training with resource professionals explaining the scenario, giving them information that they can use. Then they spend the next seven hours trying to solve this problem.

“They will be given a computer without internet access, can use Power Point in their presentation. They will be given a stock set of images or can create their own.”

SMHS computers do not have Power Point, so the team has been working to familiarize themselves with that program.


“Based on my previous experiences, in order to be successful at these events you need to know the answer before you get the question,” Taylor noted. “They need to be ready to solve this problem before really knowing what the problem is. Mr. Baker and I took a guess, we are hoping it will resemble what they will be given in Ohio.”

Taylor said Dayton is near where the team will be in Ohio and is urban in nature which he expects the current issue to focus on. He said the scenario given to the team was made very broad intentionally to expose the team to every possibility that could show up.

“We have been working on this since school ended, we met with two people working with the state legislature,” he said. “Maine is the first in the nation to require that the company that produces packaging waste has to pay for the disposal of that packaging. The kids have spent a lot of time learning about all these things.

“We don’t want the kids going into a situation they are not ready for.”

Team member Leah Burgess explained the goals and objectives of the management plan:

• Implement a sustainable plan


• Apply state of the art waste reduction and handling practices

• Consider the needs of stakeholders

• Reduce production of greenhouse gasses and address climate change

• Consider how actions will affect or benefit the Gulf of Mexico

• Assure the plan can be easily replicable to improve waste management beyond Dayton

Team members Burgess, Brendan Veillieux, Dan Wilson, Abrahm Geissinger and Owen Schwab each took turns sharing specifics of the plan.


Parents, students and others scored the presentation using the score sheet that will be used in Ohio. A question and answer period was held afterwards.

“Q and A may be just as important if not more so,” Taylor said. “The judges want you to think on your feet. Developing public speaking skills is an important part of Envirothon.”

When asked how inflation might impact suggested management programs Owen said companies like McDonald’s work in more than one state and the costs of programs would be used to help other things in people’s lives.

Leah noted inconsistencies are seen with each town doing things differently. “There is no benefit to recycling,” she said.

Brendan emphasized the importance of educating young people.

Taylor said Liz Grondin who was part of the team at regional and state competitions is unable to travel with the team to Ohio. Brendan has stepped up to take her spot, he added.

Taylor said this is the 12th time one of his teams has won the state competition. Taylor taught for Jay prior to the consolidation that created Regional School Unit 73.

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