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Alexandria Central wins Jefferson County Envirothon

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High school students from throughout the county pitted their knowledge about soil, aquatics and forestry against each other on Tuesday.

Approximately 16 teams from eight area schools had a county-level battle of the brains for the 20th annual Envirothon at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park.

“It’s a way to offer an educational event for high schools that also challenges them in natural resource topics,” said Christine M. Watkins, interim Executive Director for the Jefferson County Soil and Water District.

This year’s topic is sustainable range land management. According to www.envirothon.org, the national competition’s website, land traditionally used for agricultural purposes also can be used for hunting, hiking, snowmobiling and other activities to help promote tourism and boost the local economy.

Students passed mountain lions and wolves on the way to different stations where they could demonstrate their agriculture and environmental science knowledge.

This year’s winner, and winner for the past five years, was Alexandria Central School’s Team B, which studied for this year’s competition by dividing and conquering.

“We’ve broken it up so everyone has their own thing,” said senior Rachael A. Calhoun.

The students said creating the video for the current issue was the most difficult part of the competition. However, as a team, they said their work went well.

“We have some great teamwork going on,” said senior Christopher W. Strough.

The team will head to the state competition on May 30 and 31 at Morrisville State College to compete for a spot in the national Envirothon.

Sackets Harbor Central’s Team B was answering a multiple choice test about soil in the petting zoo around 11 a.m. Several members of the team said it was a difficult part of the competition.

“We’re better with the living stuff,” junior Alexis C. Stewart said jokingly.

She said the team, part of the school’s Envirothon club, took a trip to the Adirondacks in the fall to study different types of wildlife and forestry.

“You don’t realize how much you need to know for this,” senior Jordan J. Gonseth said.

Around the same time, Belleville Henderson Central’s FFA team was leaving the forestry station.

“We looked at pictures and studied different types of leaves,” senior Chandler N. England said about how the team studied. “I think we did pretty good, I guess.”

Mrs. Watkins said exposing students to local aquatic life and trees — items that students typically do not study at school — could lead them to a career path they had not considered before.

“It gives them some ideas,” she said. “We have professionals here they can talk to who develop each task for us.”

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