South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Lindbergh graduates succeed at state Envirothon, will compete in nationals

LHS graduates to compete in National Envirothon in Ohio
Photo by Barry Marquart
The Lindbergh Envirothon A and B teams pose after winning the Missouri state competition.

A team of Lindbergh graduates has achieved statewide success at the Missouri Envirothon competition, propelling them to nationals at the end of July.

The team was comprised of five 2022 Lindbergh graduates, Raina Clements, Sophia Unzicker, Blake Burrus, Emma Schmidt and Ava Wood, who were each responsible for a certain aspect of the competition. For example, Burrus was responsible for studying and learning Missouri trees, while Wood focused on aquatics.

The team is sponsored by AP Environmental and Earth Science Teacher Barry Marquart and receives extra training from Dave Skaer, a retired soil scientist. Marquart said he has coached teams at Lindbergh and other schools for around nine years, and no other teams have advanced this far.

“I’m just so incredibly proud of what they were able to accomplish. State is very difficult … we’ve had teams finish sixth, seventh and eighth and I thought those were pretty strong finishes,” Marquart said. “I was caught by surprise, but in hindsight with this group … the more I think about it, I’m not so surprised.”

This is the first year this group of students has had the chance to compete in Envirothon, with their first competition in the regional event. The team then moved on to state in May, where Lindbergh placed first overall among 15 teams. 

The Flyers achieved high scores in aquatics, current issues and forestry, sending them to nationals at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio from July 24 to July 30.

Each competition is hosted outdoors, with written, hands-on and oral presentation portions in five categories — soils and land use, aquatics ecology, forestry, wildlife and current environmental issues. For the hands-on portion, students identify different types of trees, soils or other related materials.

Schmidt said the oral presentation portion required a lot of team brainstorming and preparation. The topic is a prompt given by Envirothon in advance of the competition.

“Everytime we would get together we would brainstorm and try to think of different ideas. We were asked to think about how hazardous waste specifically affects our community and different solutions for it,” Schmidt said. “We were only allowed a set of note cards and our minds … and we had a 10-minute time limit.”

The national competition’s oral presentation is more strenuous. The team will receive their prompt six hours in advance of their presentation to a panel of judges, and only the top three presentations will move on to the next day to be presented to the whole conference.

“That’s a nerve-wracking part of it because we don’t know exactly what they’re going to be focusing on … but it’s also kind of exciting because we get to test ourselves and see what we can come up with on the spot,” Schmidt said.

One other way nationals differ from state is in the hands-on portion. The focus will be on Ohio-based environments, meaning the animals, plants and soils will be slightly different from the Missouri focus in the past. 

The national competition as a whole probably won’t be as stressful as the presentation portion, as students will have the chance to receive special training at certain farms and parks, while also having a break day at Kings Island Amusement Park.

Unzicker said the competition overall has been a great experience, mainly due to the uniqueness of an outdoor, hands- on test.

“It felt like an adventure in the same way it was an academic competition,” she said. 

Four of the five students are majoring in fields related to the environment, while Schmidt is focusing on computer science. 

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