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Springstead High shines at Nature Coast Envirothon
But a Citrus County team claims the top prize in the 13th annual high school competition.
By Paulette Lash Ritchie, Times Correspondent
Published February 28, 2008
Nature Coast Tech teammates, from left, Ashleigh Harris, 17, Kaitlyn Vannatter, 17, Kimberly Kroll, 14, and Bethany Moon, 14, identify a slash pine tree during the 13th annual Nature Coast Envirothon held Wednesday at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Bushnell. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties participated in the environmental science competition.
[Stephen J. Coddington | Times]
BUSHNELL - A battle raged at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park on Wednesday, but it was much different from the fight that took place here more than a century ago. That one was fought with bullets; this one, with brains.
High school students from Hernando, Pasco, Citrus and Sumter counties competed for $2,500 in scholarship money at the 13th annual Nature Coast Envirothon. Hundreds of teens from more than 50 five-member teams circulated among five stations where they were timed as they answered difficult questions about soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife and recreational impacts of natural resources.
Springstead High School's "J.A.M.E.S. 5" was the top scorer for Hernando County. The team members are Matt Russo, Eric Lataxes, Alteneese Arrington, Stephanie Arciniegas and Jennifer Zodda. This was the team's first Envirothon.
The team cited a solid reason for doing the best in the county. "We studied hard," said Arciniegas, 16. "Highlighters came in handy."
Russo, 16, gave credit to teachers Lisa Dickinson, Chris Auricchio and Carla Rydzik. "Our teachers gave us the right things to study."
The overall winning team, "Not Applicable," was from Citrus County's Academy of Environmental Science. Michelle Ball, Trevor Van Voorthujsen, Tyler Van Voorthujsen, Mike Shapot and Wacharapon Chaiyajak will share the scholarship.
The students said several factors led to their success, including using sound reasoning when they were not sure of an answer, and having Ball on the team, whom Tyler Van Voorthujsen assessed as "amazing."
Besides dealing with difficult questions, the students also struggled to stay warm. With temperatures reaching only into the 50s, the students had hoods up and hands in pockets. Pasco's Hudson High School's James Hurst, 18, a senior on "The Electrons," said his team bonded between tests when they huddled together to stay warm.
The soils category was most often named by students as the most difficult. Springstead's "We M.A.D." as in, We Make A Difference struggled with recreational impacts of natural resources.
"They asked some pretty hard questions," said Samantha Matlick, 17.
There was a category where they felt they were strong, though. "I think it's forestry," said Mark Lombardi-Nelson, 15.
1) Recreational impacts of natural resources: Which of the following is not one of the four major landscape components impacted by recreation?
2) Wildlife: What bird uses its sense of smell to locate its food?
a) wild turkey
b) turkey vulture
c) Carolina chickadee
e) Cooper's hawk
3) Soils: What is value notation?
a) Indicates its lightness
b) Indicates departure from lightness
c) Indicates its darkness
d) None of the above
e) All of the above
4) Forestry: Select the tree that is most resistant to fire, insects and diseases.
c) sand pine
d) pond pine
e) slash pine
Answers: 1) a; 2) b; 3) a; 4) b
Highest scoring teams by county:
Citrus County: "Not Applicable," Academy of Environmental Science; Michele Ball, Trevor Van Voorthujsen, Tyler Van Voorthujsen, Mike Shapot and Wacharapon Chaiyajak.
Hernando County: "J.A.M.E.S. 5," Springstead High School
Pasco County: "Fighting Plasmids," Pasco High School; Matt Russo, Eric Lataxes, Alteneese Arrington, Stephanie Arciniegas and Jennifer Zodda.
Sumter County: "Pokemon Masters," The Villages High School; Shane Fussell, Tyler Stokes, Brandon Snodgrass, Kaley Skates and Justin Hall
High scorers by category:
Aquatics: "Fighting Plasmids," Pasco High School; Ashley Gibson, Aaron Gibson, Josh Griffin, Jordan Kassabaum, and James Walmer. Teacher/adviser: Donna Clark.
Forestry: "Not Applicable," Academy of Environmental Science (Citrus County)
Soils: "Aperture Science," The Villages High School (Sumter County); Patrick Kelly, Tim Mastic, Nick Arbeiter, Kyle Jones and Zach Bush. Teacher/adviser: Karon Baumann.
Wildlife: "3/2s," Pasco High School; Cody Hart, Jessica Cruz, Morris Reynolds, Paige Wooley and Madeline Armstrong. Teacher/adviser: Donna Clark.
Recreational impacts of natural resources: "J.A.M.E.S. 5," Springstead High School
Besides scholarships from the St. Petersburg Times, winning teams received trophies.
Test questions, displays and materials were provided by Southwest Florida Water Management District, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, Florida Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry and the Hernando County Planning Department.