ST. PAUL — A team of St. Paul High School students has won this year’s Nebraska Envirothon championship. The five-member team took first place at the state competition following a day of outdoor testing.

The students from St. Paul will now prepare for the National Conservation Foundation Envirothon competition in North Carolina, set for July 29 to Aug. 2.

The Nebraska state contest was conducted April 24 at the Lower Loup NRD’s Pibel Lake recreation area near Ericson. More than 100 teams, consisting of five members each, first competed in regional contests across the state. The 14 highest-scoring teams then had the opportunity to participate at the state competition.

Teams competed in seven areas of environmental studies: soils, aquatics, forestry, wildlife, range, policy and on a current environmental issue they presented to a group of judges. This year, the students prepared oral presentations on agriculture and the environment. Test questions are not only written, but many require hands-on observations, tools, measurements and calculations.

“This competition is such a great opportunity for these students,” said Jim Eschliman, vice president of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts and a board member for the Lower Loup Natural Resources District. “Allowing students to get outdoors and learn about natural resources in a hands-on environment is great. This experience exposes students to the many exciting careers in the field of natural resources.”

Members of the first-place team from St. Paul are Marissa Baker, Noah Thede, Dalton Jerabek, Ethan Uhlir and Jackson Seward. Their coach is Boyd Bowder, a vocational teacher and FFA adviser at St. Paul High School.

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Foundation is the sponsor of the annual Nebraska Envirothon. The first, second, and third overall placing teams received recognition from the NARD Foundation.

The NARD Foundation provided $1,500 to the first-place St. Paul team. The second-place team from Loup City received $1,000, and the third-place team from Arapahoe received $500. Each team must use the money to enhance its high school’s Envirothon, natural resources and agriculture programs.

Awards were also presented to the top team in each testing category. Burwell tied for first place in range. St. Paul tied for first place in soils.

“We’re excited to work with the St. Paul team in preparation for the national competition,” said Eschliman. “We also look forward to next year, when Nebraska’s NRDs will host the 2020 National NCF Envirothon competition.”

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