APES students score in Envirothon

Ten students in AP Environmental Science competed in the regional Envirothon competition at F. Burton Smith Regional Park on Friday. Both West Shore teams ranked countywide; the Manatee Insanitee  team received the top score in Brevard and a total cash prize of $300, and the You Lichen Us? team received the second-highest score.

Envirothon involves several topics, such as aquatics, wildlife, forestry, and the Indian River Lagoon.

“[Students] went outside and spent the day walking to the different stations around the park,” AP Environmental Science teacher Paula Ladd said. “We had to answer a bunch of questions and do other stuff, like estimating the size of a huge field. It was a really sunny day so it was fun to be outside, walking around the park. I’ve done it three years before but haven’t done it in the last two. We made it to state every time before. This is my first year back [in Envirothon], and I think this year’s [teams] did really well.”

Sophomore David Anderson, a member of You Lichen Us?, said the teams excelled because they worked hard and learned a lot in Ladd’s class.

“I was trying to read the 714 page study guide. It’s legit,” he said. “[The tests] were really easy and had a lot of stuff that I already learned in AP Environmental.”

Anderson also expected his teammates to work hard.

“I expect everyone [on my team] to try 100 percent,” he said, “and to win money.”

Sophomore Hannah Schmidt, a member of Manatee Insanitee, said despite the friendships between students, there was some competition between the two West Shore teams.

“I just hoped that we’d beat the other West Shore team and we did,” she said. I thought we did really, really well, just like I had predicted.”

Schmidt tells why she joined the Envirothon team.

“I wanted to be around other students who also have a passion for the environment,” she said.

Anderson agreed but had additional motivations.

“I wanted a day off school and to win some money. I also wanted a free T-shirt and some cupcakes,” he said. “I also might have learned a thing or two about the environment along the way.”

Jennifer Thompson, employed by the City of Melbourne, judged the Envirothon’s Aquatics Division.

“This is actually my first year [volunteering], but I volunteered [as a judge] because part of my job is on water conservation,” she said. “We need to raise awareness of our environment. Getting kids enthusiastic is important because then their awareness will be that much greater as adults.”

Ladd says Envirothon is an all-around great competition.

“You get to spend time outside, which we don’t get to do enough,” she said. “I could get teacher-y here, but [Envirothon] encourages teamwork, critical thinking and a connection with the environment.”

Ladd is happy with the student’s experiences with the Envirothon.

“I just honestly hoped [the students] would have a fun day,” she said. “The learning is built in, and it was such a positive experience.”

By Andrew Lim