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Kenmare teams compete at state Envirothon

Ten Kenmare High School students represented two Envirothon teams during the North Dakota State Envirothon held last week at the Crystal Springs Bible Camp in Stutsman County.

5/17/16 (Tue)

Kenmare High School Envirothon competitors . . . Kenmare High School students who attended the state Envirothon Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at Crystal Springs include back row, from left; Instructor Laura Mibeck, Brandon Burtch, Nolan Ercanbrack, Paul Holter, Clay Froseth and Dakota Petersen. Front row, from left; Shirley Yang, Kendra Brekhus, McKayla Neubauer, Mia Fragoso and Shelby Brekhus.

By Marvin Baker

Ten Kenmare High School students represented two Envirothon teams during the North Dakota State Envirothon held last week at the Crystal Springs Bible Camp in Stutsman County.

Twenty-three teams from 17 Class A and Class B schools from around the state competed with Midkota winning and qualifying for international competition in Quebec.

Adviser Laura Mibeck said the Envirothon takes a lot of information into account and the students are tasked with figuring out how to solve manufactured scenarios placed in front of them.

She said the teams were given oral presentations about leafy spurge, a noxious weed in North Dakota and were told they had 600 acres that wasn’t managed well and the leafy spurge had taken over the property.

“They were asked to determine the best method of resolving this problem and they were “given” $34,000 to make it happen,” Mibeck said. “They had to come up with short term and long term plans.”

Mibeck said one group, Team Paul, made up of Paul Holter, Clay Froseth, McKayla Neubauer, Shirley Yang and Dakota Petersen, wanted to use airplanes to knock out the spurge. If they chose to use chemicals, the spray in the scenario was 85 percent efficient.

“They wanted to do aerial spraying,” Mibeck said. “I don’t think they realized how expensive it would be.”

The Screaming Fire Kittens, a team consisting of Brandon Burtch, Nolan Ercanbrack, Kendra Brekhus, Mia Fragoso and Shelby Brekhus, decided a biological approach would be more beneficial.

“They wanted to use bugs to control the cost,” Mibeck said. “There was a well and a stream on the property and they didn’t want to spray and contaminate the water.”

Mibeck said apparently the students listened well during the lecture phase as they had good information that she didn’t even know and they were able to use that during their problem solving.

The students were given the lecture one day and the scenario the next so Mibeck said they didn’t know their problem was going to be leafy spurge until it was sprung on them the following day.

“They must have taken good notes,” Mibeck said. “They are such good problem solvers. I’m proud of them.”

Mibeck said her two teams performed very well in their presentations. In fact, one group wrote a song about leafy spurge to get their point across.

Near the end of the Envirothon, Mibeck insisted both teams hang around and listen to the top three teams and analyze their presentations.

Several of the students believed their presentations were better than the likes of Midkota, but Mibeck said their test scores were average and in a state competition, average isn’t going to set them apart.

Froseth agreed the Kenmare presentations were better in his opinion but the tests were much harder than in the regional Envirothon at Lake Darling.

“At Lake Darling we take it a lot more seriously,” Froseth said. “State is a lot more fun.”

According to Neubauer, state is more difficult because there are so many more people competing and the contests are broken down more than in the regional.

Mibeck said there were approximately 200 students competing in the three-day envirothon, which began on Wednesday and ended Friday.

Linton, Elgin, Mayville-Portland, Montpelier, Sargent Central, Hillsboro and Kenmare represented Class B while Bismarck Century, West Fargo, Minot and Jim Hill Middle School represented Class A.

She said any school can bring one team, but if a second team is sponsored by someone, they may go as well. As an example, Linton and Kenmare had two teams.

On the first day, the students are sent out on various trails with guides to observe and learn what they see and are told.

“We went on Wednesday and were on the trails on Thursday morning,” she said. “They walk around and answer questions, they have to figure out the diameter of a tree and they look at soils, aquatics, prairie and forest and wildlife.”

Mibeck said the state envirothon is a major undertaking as one can imagine the effort it takes to accommodate 200 students.

“All the work it takes and the logistics to carry this out,” she said. “There’s housing and financial, it’s a huge effort.”

NDSU Extension had volunteers as did NRCS and separate judges were on staff. Mibeck said there is a group of people who set up the tests and others who identify bird calls. And, it takes an effort to feed at least 200 people.

“They see the value of it and the education,” Mibeck said. “NDSU had a ton of people there.”

And perhaps tradition will keep Kenmare in the thick of things. The first North Dakota Envirothon was held in 2000 with a Barnes County 4-H group winning.

West Fargo won the following two years, then in 2004 and 2005, Kenmare took it all. Sargent Central has the most wins with five, followed by West Fargo with three and Kenmare two.

Mibeck said even if Kenmare doesn’t win the title, she is always rooting for the Class B schools.

“It’s easy for Minot to bring a team and that’s all they do is study for envirothon,” Mibeck said. “We are stretched pretty thin.”

With that in mind, she is happy with how her students performed and believes that had they worked on their written material a bit more, they quite possibly could have beaten Midkota.

“I know my students have the capability of winning,” Mibeck said. “The trouble is what’s the priority? Class B schools are so split. Regardless of their scores, they’re still learning and making friends. It’s a valuable learning experience.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!