By Libby Rosequist
North East High School Envirothon team, Green Flash, earned first place at the 2021 Erie County Envirothon, held on April 22.
Green Flash won the individual county championship and will move on to the state competition beginning Monday, May 10 and finishing Tuesday, May 11.
The students have two advisers, John Hallenburg, who has been involved since North East started competing, and NEHS teacher, Phil Sarver.
“It has been a wonderful experience being involved and advising next to John,” Sarver said. “He has been with the team since its inception and has taken them to states many times and has been the coach when they won the national championship as well.”
The state competition will be virtual and the North East students will be going up against 65 teams across the state. The top 15 teams will move on to the oral component where the winner will then be announced.
All Envirothon teams competed through online testing that utilized videos, maps, soil surveys, keys and other tools they used to interpret data and identify Pennsylvania species.
The topics competed in included wildlife, aquatics, soils/land use, forestry and this year’s current issue, water resource management: local control and local solutions.
North East High School defeated General McClane, who has won the county division the last three years, by 65 points.
The five students making up Green Flash were Hayden Fox, expert in aquatics; Grant Walker, expert in soils; Aidan Reinsel, expert in forestry; Alex Haskins, expert in wildlife; and Andrew Nishnick, expert in the current issue.
The testing for the state competition will take up a full day with the winning team moving on to represent Pennsylvania in the international competition this summer.
State competition adds an oral component where students must solve a current environmental problem and give a live presentation followed by a question and answer session with professional judges.
“As adviser, this has been one of the hardest working, dedicated and fun teams I’ve worked with,” Hallenburg said. “It should be noted that all of their learning and many study sessions, we’ve been studying since October, have been done on their own time outside of school.
“The state testing is much more in depth than the county level, but they have been preparing and we are ready to move forward and show the hard work they have put in.”