High school students will put their environmental knowledge to the test April 29 at the first Carroll County Envirothon Competition.
"They're going to be challenged," said Stuart Lehman, a biologist in the Tidewater Administration of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Sixty students from the county's five high schools will dig in dirt, identify trees, peer at fish, observe wildlife and walk through awetland at Hashawha Environmental Appreciation Center.
The contest is sponsored by the Carroll Soil Conservation District and has beenorganized by a committee from various county and state agencies, said C. Edward Null Jr. of the soil conservation office.
Two teams ofsix students from each school will be tested on their knowledge in five areas: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and wetlands.
ClareE. Linfield, an agriculture science and technology teacher at Liberty High, said students are studying for the contest by reading up on the subjects and participating in school field trips.
Brad Yohe, supervisor of science for the county Board of Education, said the contest will be tough, but fun for the students who are enrolled in applied science classes.
"The students involved are motivated and reallycare about the environment," he said.
After the contest, organizers hope students will maintain their enthusiasm for the subject and initiate environmental projects at their schools, he said.
"We're trying to downplay the competition and make it a learning experience,"Yohe said.
At the aquatics station, students will be working in astream to identify fish and insects and determine water quality, Lehman said.
"It gives us a chance to show students what a fisheries biologist might do," he said.
At the wetlands station, students will walk in a wetlands area and identify plants and soils, said Catherine Rappe, chief of the county Bureau of Water Resources Management.
Beth Trickett, a forester with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said she will be working with students in tree, insect andplant disease identification in a forested area at Hashawha.
Bryan Snyder of the soil conservation office said students will be working in a 5-foot-deep pit to identify soils.
The winning team will receive a green and gold banner to hang at its school until next year'scontest when it will be passed to the new winner, Null said.
Ninecounty businesses and environmental groups have donated a total of $1,500 to help cover the cost of the contest, but $1,000 in donations still is needed, Null said.