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Envirothon team wins state, will compete at Nationals

Miranda Grayzel-Ward

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From underdog to state champion.

Even Oxford High Envirothon team adviser Renee Dayan did not expect her eventual state-champion squad to qualify for the state competition in the first place. With three of the five team members freshmen, who would?

But with persistence and hard work, the team placed first at their state competition and will be advancing to the national Envirothon competition in Springfield, Missouri, later this summer.

Evirothon is an environmental competition in which a team of five competes in categories such as soil/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and current environmental issues. Each member is assigned a specific category and completes a multiple-choice assessment as well as an onsite evaluation in which members identify different species of animals, trees, or other organisms.

Even the freshman-laden team was not expecting to win its state competition.

“It’s very exciting especially with such a young team” said one of the few upperclassmen and team leader, junior Kayla Owens. “It’s really surprising especially since three of our members are freshman.”

Added Dayan, “I was just blown away. It just shows what kind of students they are.”

The national competition will begin at the end of July. The competition, featuring 57 teams throughout the United States and Canada, will meet in Springfield, Missouri. The competition requires knowledge on species of plants and animals based in Missouri which means more studying from the team. Dayan will be bringing in experts in the each of the five fields of the competition to help adequately prepare the team for what will come at the national event.

“We are going to study a lot over the summer,” freshman Joanna Bu said.

Owens isn’t sure how the team will do at Nationals but feels that they are a solid team and should do well (the highest rank the team has ever received at nationals was fifth).

“We have a really consistent team this year, so I feel that we will do pretty well,” Owens said.

This will be the last OHS team that Dayan will be coaching. Dayan is retiring this year and says that leaving the team is one of the hardest parts.

“Envirothon is the main things I am sad about leaving because I just love it,” Dayan said.

Bu feels that Dayan leaving gives the team an extra incentive to try their best at nationals.

“She is a great leader,” Bu said. “We are going to try our best at nationals.”

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Envirothon team wins state, will compete at Nationals