PAUL SMITHS - A group of students from Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School have set the bar for area schools at one of the region's largest academic competitions.
The team of Alex Andrade, Ben Goff, Tara Pratt, Josh Pierce and Zach Denton scored highest overall at the North Adirondack Regional Envirothon, held May 13 at Paul Smith's College.
The ELCS team is the first from the school to take first place among schools in Essex County and the first ever from Essex County to be named overall winner since the competition began in 1998.
Twenty-eight, five-member teams from 20 schools in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and St. Lawrence Counties competed in the test of New York's natural resources.
"It's basically to try to get the environmental awareness at the high school level," said Dave Reckahn from Essex County Soil and Water District, "and it sometimes promotes them to studying environmental science or environmental careers."
The event is sponsored by Soil and Water Districts from the four counties, the New York Power Authority, Paul Smith's College, and several other organizations.
Paul Smith's professor Mike DeAngelo said the college is thrilled to host the event.
"We look at it as the best and brightest of students in the region with an interest in the outdoors and environmental sciences," he said, noting the college's strong focus on such subjects.
Teams competed in an outdoor setting, answering questions in five categories: soil, forestry, wildlife, aquatics and current natural resources issues. ELCS scored highest in both aquatics and wildlife.
"We are super proud of each and every student that took place in this most valuable learning experience," said ELCS principal Kenneth Hughes. "It thrills us to know that our students can take what they have learned in theory in the classroom and then apply it in practice at events such as this."
Last year, Paul Smith's College offered scholarships to students from the winning teams. According to DeAngelo, the college will consider any envirothon participant for a scholarship to study a related field at Paul Smith's.
Science teacher Becky Bosley has coached the ELCS Envirothon team for the past five years and said the event helps motivate students to learn. Three members of this year's team have expressed a desire to someday work in the field of environmental science.
Other schools to win top honors in their counties were Parishville-Hopkinton Central School in St. Lawrence County, Champlain Valley Career and Technical Education Center in Clinton County, and Franklin Academy in Franklin County.
The winning teams are all eligible to participate in the New York State Envirothon Championship June 2 and 3 at Keuka College, located in Keuka Park, N.Y. There, they can compete for scholarships and a chance to go on to the national competition in Fresno, Calif.