Members of Spruce Mountain High School Envirothon team Maine Mudpuppies, from left, Leah Burgess, Abrahm Geissinger, Brenden Veillieux, advisor Rob Taylor, Owen Schwab, advisor Ken Baker and Daniel Wilson, on May 7 examine damage deer caused over the winter to a shrub outside the high school in Jay. The team placed first at the Southwestern Regional Envirothon held Thursday at Camp Gustin in Sabattus. Team Maine Mudpuppies is made up of students who won the state competition the last two years. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser file

JAY — Spruce Mountain High School’s Envirothon team, the Maine Mudpuppies, won first place at the Southwestern Regional competition held Thursday at Camp Gustin in Sabattus.

“In the schools and probably in the community as well, Envirothon is not a source of pride in this town,” Regional School Unit 73 student representative Daniel Wilson told the board of directors Thursday night. “It is not a sport. Not a lot of people know we win. I think that is not OK.”

Wilson noted that he is biased, having been involved with the program since before he was a freshman. “It means a lot to some people,” he said. “We do a lot for our trophy cases.”

“A lot of us do know about Envirothon,” Chair Robert Staples said. “We are excited; we do appreciate it. We are proud.”

After the meeting, Wilson said one other school, Massabesic High School, and six teams in all participated in the event. Out of four teams from Spruce Mountain, Wilson said his team and one other, which placed second, will compete at the Maine Envirothon to be held June 7 at the Viles Arboretum in Augusta.

Friday morning, York County Soil and Water Conservation District, which hosted the regional competition in collaboration with Androscoggin Land Trust, reported the results:


• First: Spruce Mountain 1, scored 417.67

• Second: Spruce Mountain 3, scored 337.66

• Third: Massabesic 1, scored 314.74

• Fourth: Spruce Mountain 4, scored 302.31

• Fifth: Spruce Mountain 2, scored 288.45

• Sixth: Massabesic 2, scored 183.25

The regional competition was co-hosted by the Oxford, Cumberland, Franklin and Androscoggin counties soil and water conservation districts.

Later Friday, Envirothon advisor Rob Taylor shared that Wilson’s team score at the regional is the best it had ever achieved in Maine competitions. This is also the third consecutive year the team will be competing for the state title, he noted.

Aimee Dorval, Androscoggin Land Trust executive director, is a former Jay high school student who participated in Envirothon, Taylor stated.

Other business

Directors voted to not participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.


This is more of a housekeeping thing, Laura Merrill, food service director said prior to the vote.

“LD577 requires that any school that is greater than 50% free or reduced (meal eligible) must participate in CACFP or formally opt out by the board, which is what we have done in the past,” she said. “I am asking to do so again.”

Spruce Mountain Primary School in Livermore is the only school that qualifies. 21st Century afterschool program provides snacks at the school and the food pantry is available, Merrill said. During the pandemic, participation for meal pickup was practically nonexistent at that location, she noted.

Students from Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls attend Spruce Mountain schools. The elementary, middle and high schools are in Jay.

“Basically, one family picked up meals three times a week, that was about it,” Merrill said. “If the board wants to participate, we are going to be looking at additional staffing. Somebody has to be there, students have to eat on site, so it becomes very costly. I am concerned about the effect it would have on other programs.”

There are other areas that should be focused on, Merrill stated. Vending machines were looked into, would cost $16,000 for the few meals served at the primary school, she noted, adding that it could be different at the high school where there is more foot traffic.


Staples suggested bringing the issue to the board at the beginning of the school year after Merrill confirmed any decision made would be for this year.

“We can certainly look at this in the fall,” she said. “There were so many uncertainties this year.”

Director Robin Beck suggested conducting a survey next fall to see what the interest was before bringing the issue to the board.

In other business, director Holly Morris challenged other directors to volunteer as bus monitors. She plans to be a monitor one day a week. “There are school bus issues we need to be more aware of than we are,” she said.

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