The Advancing Glaciers Advance to National Competition

Spruce Creek High 2019 state envirothon victory

The Spruce Creek Envirothon Team "The Advancing Glaciers" of Alejandro Morales, Grace Liu, Meryl Liu, Melody Palmer and Scott Tobin won the Florida State Envirothon Competition this year. The full team included alternates Nami Pruitt and Chloe Horncastle, advisors Joshua Platt and Merrick Johnson and parent chaperone Ann Tobin. The Envirothon is a competition that tests content knowledge in different environmental disciplines as well as application of knowledge with testing of specific skills and techniques used in the field. In preparation for the competition each student picked an area of expertise: Alejandro – soils, Mel – forestry, Grace – aquatics, Meryl – wildlife and Scott – current issues in agriculture and the environment. The team also collaborated to answer a team oral question about the impacts of land use in the Suwanee River Basin where the state competition was held. 

Our state Envirothon is part of a larger competition the North American NCF-Envirothon. The Envirothon got its start nationally in 1979 as the Environmental Olympics in Pennsylvania to encourage students to learn more about their environment. It expanded to include other states and by 1988 had been renamed as the Envirothon. Now recognized at the NCF-Envirothon, the competition includes teams from all 50 state and throughout Canada with inquires to compete now coming in from countries all around the world. The Envirothon has become a truly international competition and is sponsored by the National Conservation Foundation (NCF). Participating teams at nationals compete in a week long event that includes intensive training, testing and experiential learning as well as opportunities to meet students from around North America and deepen their understanding of the world in which they live.

The Advancing Glaciers team from Spruce Creek High School started their winning streak at the Volusia county regional competition in February. It was organized by VCS Environmental TOA Louise Chapman and sponsored by the Volusia County Soil and Water Conservation District. There Creek's team came out at the top of group of teams including representatives from 5 other local high schools. Then, during the last weekend of April, the team traveled to the UF – IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Live Oak, Florida for the state competition. After a night of camping, team practice and content review, the team competed against the top teams from 22 other regions around the state of Florida. Each member contributed their very best and the team was victorious by 19 aggregate points over the second place team in the state. 

The victory was a real team effort with everyone contributing in their areas of expertise as well as helping one another. The team scored first place in the both the Team Oral Question and the Wildlife Categories, second place in the Soils and Aquatics categories and third place in Forestry category. The national competition will present more difficult challenges as students now need to master content from a broader base of knowledge and compete with the very best that each state and Canadian province has to offer. In a time when we hear daily news about threats to our local and global environment it is inspiring to see these young people investing so much time and energy in becoming experts in this field. The Advancing Glaciers team name is a sign of hope for the future, hope that in our lifetime we will stop seeing the retreat of glaciers around the world, hope that this generation will be the one to reverse the effects of climate change already being felt here in Florida, and hope that they will be able to lead us bravely into a more sustainable and just future.