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A contest of natural knowledge

Springstead High's Angry Pirates are the county's top team at the regional envirothon.

Published February 16, 2007

Springstead High School students Joshua Magrini, 18; Chay Baxley, 16; and Zhoa Wang, 17, answer questions during the Nature Coast Regional Envirothon on Thursday. The Angry Pirates are the county's top team at the regional envirothon.
[Times photo: Edmund D. Fountain]

NEW PORT RICHEY - More than 300 students from four counties braved chilly, breezy weather Thursday to compete in the annual Nature Coast Regional Envirothon, held this year at the Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park in New Port Richey.

Hernando, Sumter, Citrus and Pasco county high school students, who had been preparing for the event for weeks, bundled up in jackets and sweatshirts and answered questions in five categories: soils, forestry, renewable/alternative energy, aquatics and wildlife.

The highest-scoring teams from each county left with trophies. The highest-scoring team overall left with a bigger trophy, medallions and a $2,500 scholarship, provided by the St. Petersburg Times, to divide among the five team members.

This year's top team was Pasco High School's Krusty Krab. Team member Rick Mayotte said he was elated.

"We studied really hard. Just tons of hard work," he said.

Mayotte will share the scholarship with teammates Ian Hartshorn, Jordon Kassabaum, Aaron Gibson and Josh Griffin.

The Hernando County high-scoring team was Springstead High's Angry Pirates: Zach Ferriero, Michael Marquez, DeAnna Hefferan, Jacqueline Mason and Ashley Rogers, with advisers Lisa Rae Dickinson, Chris Avricchio and Marie Freyre.

Citrus' top team, Bait Masters, was from the Academy of Environmental Science. Members were Lauren Giallourakis, Javanth Charles, Katelyn Cunningham, Ian Sylvester and Tyler Van Voorthuijsen. The team's adviser was Kristen Milford.

Pasco's high scorer, obviously, was the Krusty Krabs, whose adviser is Donna Clark.

Tops from Sumter County was Almond Crush from the Villages High School: Kyle Jones, Trisha DeTorres, Nicholas Arbeter, Zachory Bush and Patrick Kelly. The adviser was Karon Baumann.

The top team from each county is eligible to compete in the state competition April 14 at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Palm Beach County.

Of the five categories, soils seemed to befuddle the students most. The soil section included questions about soil pH, the use of a soil survey, soil horizons (layers) and color.

Nature Coast Technical High School's Wobbegongs' weakness was "definitely in soils," said team member Patrick Gonzalez, "doing the testing."

Top county scorers the Angry Pirates said they prepared for the regional event by hitting the books and the forest. "We studied a lot; meetings every Monday," said Michael Marquez. They also took some field trips into the forest, Zack Ferriero said. And now that they are headed to South Florida, they intend to continue. "A lot of the same," Zack said. "Why change what works?"

* * *

Besides the awards for top scorer overall and top county scorers, recognition and certificates were given to the teams that scored highest in the individual categories. They were:

AQUATICS: Hernando County, Nature Coast Technical High School's Threshers Tonya Waugh, Alan Veneble, Jada Padilla, Ashleigh Harris and Rebecca Daley, with adviser Aimee Moon.

RENEWABLE/ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: Pasco County, Pasco High School's Krusty Krab (see names above).

FORESTRY: Pasco County, J. W. Mitchell High School's AP Crew: Mike Jenkins, Kevin McDermott, John Jayes, Emily Helmrich and Suraj Patel, with adviser Ed Braddy.

SOILS: Sumter County, the Villages High School's Almond Crush (see names above).

WILDLIFE: Pasco County, J. W. Mitchell High School's Tree Huggers: Logan LePage, Paul King, Nick Bevery, Matt Lukasik and Sean McLean, with adviser Melanie Milletics.

The 2007 Nature Coast Envirothon was sponsored by the Times, Coastal Trophy & Sign of Crystal River, the Hernando County Chapter of the Florida Audubon Society, the Citrus County Chapter of the Native Plant Society, the Pasco County Board of Commissioners, Covanta Energy of Pasco Inc., Post Buckley, Hernando County, Virginia Edwards, SECO and Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water.

The following groups prepared and organized the testing stations:

FORESTRY: Florida Division of Forestry.

AQUATICS: Hernando County planning and utilities departments.

RENEWABLE/ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud).

SOILS: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Services.

WILDLIFE: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

[Last modified February 16, 2007, 06:38:49]

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