FORT JENNINGS — The Fort Jennings Envirothon Team was greeted by a cheering crowed and escorted through town by the Fort Jennings Fire Department Tuesday after returning home with the Envirothon State Championship.
“We’ve been state runner-up three times,” said Jeff Jostpille, team advisor and coach. “Once, we were tied for state champion and lost the tiebreaker. That’s the worst way to lose a state championship.”
Envirothon is an academic environmental competition sponsored by soil and water districts. The competition begins in the spring with teams from the five Ohio areas competing for regional championships, said Jostpille.
Envirothon teams are tested on their knowledge of forestry, wildlife, aquatics, soils and a regional, state or national subject, depending on the level of competition. After the testing phase, the teams then give 20-minute presentations on an environmental issue, during which every team member is required to speak, Jostpille said.
The team, consisting of seniors Alex Wieging, Nolan Grote, Connor Hoersten and recent graduates Aaron Sealts and Adam Howbert, said the key to their victory was relaxing and just being themselves. Grote, who the team called the entertainment, had suggested doing the presentation they had to give with Australian accents.
“We have a good time when we do it,” Wieging said. “We were being ourselves. The way we look at it is we have nothing to lose.”
The five young men all agreed winning the state championship was still a pleasant shock. The champions received a plaque and a $300 check for their victory, as well as their registration for the North American Envirothon and transportation to the event being paid for, Jostpille said.
The North American Envirothon is scheduled to be held July 22 to 25 in Idaho. The subject of the presentation the team will have to give at the North American event would be range land management, and the Envirothon Team will have to pick a major issue in the area involving that subject and create a viable solution to the issue, Jostpille said. The solution they come up with will have to take into consideration area political, economic, environmental and social concerns, he said.
“It’s a very real-life experience,” Jostpille said.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.