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Park Rapids students engage environmental prowess at state meet

Park Rapids Area High School Envirothon competitors include front, from left, Dylan Larsen, Kallee Holland and Alissa Berthiaume, middle, Alex Renner, Brennan Larson, Allycia Zinke and Sophie Shogren, and back, Christian Ridlon, Dan Pike, Jessica Cordahl and Brandy Parsons. (Submitted photo)

Park Rapids Area High School students headed to Spirit Mountain in Duluth this week to compete at the state level in the annual Envirothon, an outdoor environmental learning competition.

The team, comprised of Sophie Shogren, Dan Pike, Alex Renner, Christian Ridlon, Brennan Larson and Dylan Larson, claimed second at regionals and 16th out of 36 teams at state.

All but Ridlon conducted independent study for the competition administered by the state's Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Ridlon was part of the ecology class as well as an independent researcher, advisor Kevin Young explained.

This team has participated three years at state. Monday, teams were required to make a 10-minute oral presentation on the unique ecosystem of the St. Louis River and Lake Superior estuary.

The Park Rapids team of Kallee Holland Allycia Zinke, Brandy Parsons, Alissa Berthiaume and Jessica Cordahl, also heading to Duluth, claimed fourth at regions and 26th at state.

Young is hoping to recruit the juniors for next year's event.

The students also compete by visiting five learning stations and taking 20-point exams on environmental topics - aquatics and wetlands, forest management and tree identification, soils and erosion potential, wildlife and current events, this year salt and freshwater estuaries.

Local natural resource professionals administer the exams.

Young said the students' success is a continuation of past years' successes.

The Envirothon was established to promote a desire for students to learn more about Minnesota's natural resources, as well as public policy and roles of government and landowners in managing the state's resources.

The program helps student develop critical thinking skills, cooperative problem-solving ability and decision-making expertise.