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Alexandria Central wins Jefferson County Envirothon


Low-impact development was the hot topic Wednesday at the annual Envirothon at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park.

Twenty-two teams from eight high schools in Jefferson County battled to be named the brainiest in wildlife, soil, forestry and this year’s current-event issue.

“The state chose low-impact development for this year,” said Jacob M. Ambrose, county Soil and Water Conservation District technician and Envirothon coordinator. “It’s how they deal with storm water in highly populated and residential areas. There’s different ways they can decrease runoff — pervious pavement, vegetative roofs, retention ponds.”

He said runoff is a problem when it whisks away gas and oil leaks, fertilizer and sediment.

Prior to the competition, students had to create videos proposing solutions to the current-event problem. According to the state Envirothon website, teams had to come up with ideas to reduce the maximum daily load of nitrogen in surface runoff for a theoretical county.

A team from Alexandria Central School District won for the fifth year in a row. The team will advance to the state tournament May 23 and 24 at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva.

“We got teams together for the competition based on interest,” said Katherine D. Sheehan, LaFargeville Central School District earth and environmental science teacher. “I have three teams here. I really put it in their hands and put them in charge. It’s self-motivated learning.”

Because much of the test material is not covered in the normal science curriculum, study guides and various resources are available on the competition’s website.

“All of the tests are oriented to biology,” said Mr. Ambrose. “Some of the competitive teachers orient their classes to hit on these topics.”

State Department of Environmental Conservation forestry technician Scott N. Glenn was the forestry exam proctor. At his station near the black bear exhibit, students had to answer 25 multiple-choice questions based on tree samples and calculating acreage.

“Some of them involve mathematics and basic orienteering skills,” he said.

Mr. Glenn said he hopes the competition promotes environmental awareness in the high schoolers’ minds.

“It gives them something for job skills,” he said. “A lot of these kids are going into college, and this might steer them in this direction.”

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