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Keene Envirothon team wins fourth place at competition

Union Leader Correspondent

August 15. 2013 8:28PM

KEENE — Representing New Hampshire, the Keene High School Envirothon excelled in a North American competition earlier this month in Montana.

“The team worked very hard preparing this year and earned an impressive fourth place finish in the 2013 North American Envirothon Competition,” Keene High School teacher and team adviser and coach Marshall Davenson said in an e-mail.

The team competed from Aug. 3 to 10 in Bozeman, Montana, against the best teams from 48 states and nine Canadian provinces and territories. For the fourth place win each of the team members have been awarded a $2,000 scholarship.

Members of the team are co-captains Eileen Cormier and Peter Murphy, Rebecca Lebeaux, Adam Burnett and Stephanie Bilodeau.

Davenson and Keene High School science department chairwoman Elizabeth Schnackenberg accompanied the team.

Going into the competition, the team knew the theme was sustainable rangeland management but they did not know what the challenge would be, said Murphy Thursday.

To prepare, the team sought help from Cheshire County Conservation District employees Amanda Littleton and Sharlene Beaudry and U.S. Deparment of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service New Hampshire staff member Heidi Konesko, who provided information and resources to the team.At the competition the team was tasked with advising a fictitious family ranch on the use of their rangeland.

“Our presentation was based on a family ranch and we had to come up with a way to make them economically viable and environmentally sustainable at the same time and we had to pitch it to them,” Murphy said. “It was definitely incredibly exciting to take home fourth in an incredibly competitive competition.”

Murphy said his three years on the team has opened his eyes to the academic world, especially science fields, which he plans to pursue in college after he graduates from Keene High School in 2014.

The Envirothon challenges have also made him realize that environmental issues that can seem overwhelming, are manageable when one approaches issues at a local level and works to find a solution, he said.

The Envirothon is North America’s largest high school environmental education competition, Davenson said, reaching more than 500,000 students annually.

The Envirothon’s mission is to develop knowledgeable, skilled, and dedicated citizens who are willing and prepared to work towards achieving a balance between quality of life and the quality of the environment. Teams are challenged in five natural resource categories such as soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and current environmental issues.

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