News Release, Maryland Department of Agriculture

ANNAPOLIS, MD – A five-member team of students from Calvert High School in Calvert County won the 29th annual Maryland Envirothon — an outdoor natural resources competition that challenges high school students to identify and categorize living resources, perform soil surveys, and solve other complex natural resource issues. Approximately 1,000 students from 15 counties across Maryland took part in this year’s competition. The event was held on June 19-20 at St. Mary’s College in Southern Maryland.

The Calvert County team will represent Maryland at the North American Envirothon competition on July 28-Aug. 2 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Team members representing the winning Maryland team include Grace Miller, Kristina Dube, Ben Springer, Vincent Sullens, and Michael Deffinbaugh. Their coach is Charles Gustin.

The Maryland Envirothon is held every year at an outdoor environmental education center. Students taking part in the competition study Maryland’s natural resources throughout the entire school year in hopes of winning. Working in teams of five with one or two alternates, students compete in five areas of environmental studies: soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and an environmental issue that changes each year. This year’s environmental issue is Agriculture and Environment: Knowledge & Technology to Feed the World.

Each team’s knowledge is tested under the supervision of foresters, soil scientists, and wildlife specialists. Teamwork, problem-solving, and presentation skills are evaluated as each team gives a presentation that includes recommendations for solving an environmental challenge to a panel of judges. The team with the highest cumulative total wins and gets the opportunity to represent Maryland at the national competition.

2019 Maryland Envirothon Champions. Photo (left to right): Chuck Gustin (coach), Vincent Sullens, Michael Deffinbaugh, Kristina Dube, Grace Miller, and Ben Springer are honored by Charles Rice, president of the Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts.

At this year’s Maryland Envirothon, the Calvert County team scored 418 points out of a possible 500. They were the only team to score over 400 points in this year’s competition. Montgomery Blair High School in Montgomery County finished second with 396.5 points, Harford Christian Academy in Harford County finished third with 388 points, Venturing Crew 202 — a Scouts group from Carroll County — finished fourth with 375 points, and the team from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George’s County finished fifth with 365 points.

Members of the top three teams were awarded scholarships ranging from $200 to $500 through the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board Scholarship Program. In addition, winning team members received a wildlife print, a Maryland Envirothon shirt, and other prizes.

Established in 1990, the objectives of the Maryland Envirothon are twofold — to test students’ environmental knowledge and understanding of state resource issues, and to instill a desire to learn more about the natural world.  Winning teams compete at the local, state, national, and international levels. The first Envirothon competition was held in Pennsylvania in 1979. Since then, more than 30 states, Canada, and Australia have embraced the program and sent 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 the Environment, the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UMD AGNR), Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation (MAEF), U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS), Garrett College-Natural Resources and Wildlife Technology Program, Chaney Foundation LTD, Western Maryland Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc., Mid-Atlantic Association of Professional Soil Scientists, South Mountain Creamery, Southern Maryland RC&D, Crofton Greenery Garden Club, LaPlata Garden Club, Sherrell Goggin, Edrich Lumber, Inc., Howard County Garden Club, Catoctin Mountain Orchard, Mt. Airy Garden Club, SWCS Pocomoke Chapter, The Wildlife Society, James Meyers, and the Rural Maryland Council.

For more information about the 2019 Maryland Envirothon competition, please contact Barry Burch at 240-215-5004/ or Craig Hartsock at 301-707-6042.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...