Ryan team heads to nationals

Four recently graduated Bishop Ryan Catholic School students are on the state’s championship Envirothon team that will represent North Dakota next week in the North American Envirothon competition in Bozeman, Mont. The national competition will run from Aug. 4-10.

Graduated seniors John Salling, Abbey Steckler, Nichole Brunner and Thomas Burke are joined on the team by Leigh Ann Reynolds, who will be a senior at Ryan this fall.

“I’m so proud of these kids,” said their coach, JoAnn Schapp. “They worked so hard.”

Schapp recruited the students to compete in the Envirothon back when they were rising high school freshmen. This was the first year that the students won the state competition, though they’ve placed in the past.

The State Envirothon Competition was held at Crystal Springs Bible Camp May 9-11.

A total of 75 students from around the state were challenged on their knowledge and skills using hands-on testing sites, as they walked through four diverse outdoor trails to see who knew the most about natural resources and the environment. A 10-minute oral presentation before a panel of three judges, along with the scores earned on the testing trails, determined the top three teams. These three teams then went on to give their oral presentation before a five-member judging panel to determine the state champions.

Schapp said it was Ryan’s excellent oral presentation that helped them beat Minot High in the final competition at state.

Schapp said the teams from Minot High and Minot Ryan often study together and have gone on field exercises together.

Minot High School, which has won the competition in the past, placed second overall. Team members included Tiffany Dostert, Clare Super, Rachel Dostert, Allison Rabe and Brandon Christman.

Another team from Ryan scored highest in the “Soils Trail.” Those students included Regaen Zarr, Lindsey Bertsch, Justin Merck, Monica Anderson and Megan Hardy.

On Monday, Salling, Steckler, Brunner and Burke were hard at work behind Bishop Ryan studying for next week’s competition. They were attempting to identify the variety of plants and grasses growing near the parking lot, from sweet clover, with its yellow flower, to alfalfa, which has a purple flower, to leafy spurge, which has a milky discharge.

The Envirothon is a problem-solving natural resource competition for high school students. Teams consisting of five members in grades 9-12 from a school, organization or club, study in the areas of forestry, soil, water, wildlife and a current environmental issue. Team members demonstrate proven concepts of hands-on education combined with the excitement of effective educational tools, which will help schools teach students to become more environmentally aware.

The Envirothon is sponsored by the Sheyenne James RC&D Council and the Coalition for Conservation and Environmental Education in partnership with local, state and federal agencies, and organizations, private business and Soil Conservation Districts.