ANNAPOLIS, MD – A five-member team of students from Carroll County, named Venturing Crew 202, is the winner of the 25th annual Maryland Envirothon — an outdoor natural resources competition that challenges students to identify and categorize living resources, perform soil surveys and solve other complex natural resource issues. More than 89 challengers from 18 counties across Maryland took part in this year’s competition. The event was held June 17-18 at the St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s County. 

“I am so impressed with all the students in this competition and the dedication and commitment they bring to their studies of our natural resources,” said Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “This is not an easy competition and I congratulate all the students who participated, especially those on the Venturing Crew team. I know they will do Maryland proud at the national Envirothon.”  

The five Carroll County students attend different high schools in the region. Team members are: Amy Donna Bittler, Sierra Fleming, Elliot Hirtle, Jeb Fleming, and Rebecca Gross. Venturing Crew 202 will represent Maryland at the 2015 North American Envirothon, scheduled for July 27-August 2 at Missouri State University. More than 250 teenagers from the United States and Canada are expected to compete for $100,000 in scholarships and prizes.

The second place team is the Sprouts from Harford Christian School in Harford County. The third place team, named the Duck Fizzers, is from Montgomery Blair High School in Montgomery County.

The Maryland Envirothon is held once a year at an outdoor environmental education center. Students taking part in the competition study Maryland’s natural resources for a year in hopes of winning. Working in teams of five, students are trained and tested in four natural resource areas including soils, aquatics, forestry and wildlife plus an environmental issue that changes from year to year. This year’s special environmental issue was Urban Forestry.  Each team’s knowledge, teamwork and problem-solving skills are tested and evaluated under the supervision of foresters, soil scientists and wildlife specialists.

At this year’s competition, the Venturing Crew from Carroll County scored 459 points out of a possible 500.  They were followed by teams from Harford County (458 points), and Montgomery County (447 points)  
Members of the top three teams were awarded scholarships ranging from $300 to $1,000 through the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board Scholarship Program. In addition, winning team members received a wildlife print, Maryland Envirothon shirt and other prizes.

The Harford County team was the high scorer in the “Soils” category of the competition with a score of 93 points out of a possible 100. The Mid-Atlantic Association of Professional Soil Scientists (MAPSS) presented each member of the team with a cash award of $50. In addition, the team received a print and gift cards. 

Established in 1990, the Maryland Envirothon aims to test students’ environmental knowledge and understanding of state resource issues and to instill a desire to learn more about the natural world. More than 30 states, Canada and Australia send teams to the international competition.

The Maryland Envirothon is sponsored by the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts and the State Soil Conservation Committee. Contributors and supporters include the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of Environment, the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Garrett College-Natural Resources and Wildlife Technology Program, Maryland Soybean Board, Chaney Foundation LTD, New Page Corporation, Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc., The Purkins Family, Mid-Atlantic Association of Professional Soil Scientists, Southern Maryland Resource Conservation & Development Board, Inc., AFSCME-Maryland and the Rural Maryland Council.