GHS triumphs at NH Envirothon


(L to R) Dr. Houghton, Anna Cadorette, Taryn Ouellette, Lilith Cadorette, Calvin Demers, Jana Anders, and Alex Magin

Calvin Demers, Contributing Author

Tuesday, May 17th was a fantastic day for the GHS Environmental science teams as they swept the competition at the New Hampshire Envirothon at NHTI. Both of Goffstown’s teams placed with Team 2 placing first overall and Team 1 placing second overall against 18 other competing teams. The day consisted of a series of difficult practical tests in the areas of wildlife, aquatics, soil sciences, and forestry, as well as a current event presentation regarding plastic pollution in Goffstown and New Boston. Each team consisted of 5 people, each being an expert in their chosen subject. While the entire team must take the tests, these experts are expected to take the lead during their testing time. The experts for their respective teams were Taryn Oullette and Alec Balke on current events, Alex Magin and Westley Mitchell on Wildlife, Lilith Cadorette and Maggie Jorczak on aquatics, Calvin Demers and Hannah Laidlaw on Forestry, and Jana Andres and Ronnie Morgan on soil sciences.

After months of preparation, the day finally arrived. When asked about how the team felt before going into the competition, Lilith said “there’s no way we win. We’re good and all, but look how prepared everyone else is!” After a brief entrance ceremony to explain the rules and expectations for the day, the teams jumped right into the wildlife exam. Teams are expected to be able to identify the many species of bird, reptile, amphibian, and mammal live in our state by call, sight, pelt, or tracks, as well as be familiar with the many state and local regulations regarding wildlife. In this category, Alex Magin shone, securing the top score for wildlife in the competition.

Next came the current event presentation segment. Both teams prepared a 15 minute presentation regarding the abundance of plastic waste, and how they can become resources in the Goffstown and New Boston communities. With a focus on the lunchroom, many solutions for the amount of plastic consumed by the school were discussed, including sauce dispensers to replace sauce packets, bamboo or recycled paper utensils, paper salad bowls, and paper cartons for juice instead of tiny plastic cups. “It’s amazing just how much plastic is used in just one science classroom, and think of how many classrooms there are in this school, in this state, or in this country” said Dr. Houghton during a class discussion. The class was glad to get a topic that was so important to their own values, as well as those of their mentor.

After the judging came Soil Sciences. The winner was the two-person alternate team consisting of Samantha Cullen and Ana Cadorette, with the two main teams placing second and third. For the test itself, teams were asked to to identify the structure of soil based on sight and feel; and to be able to tell the mineral content of each layer of soil. Maps of the surrounding area were provided and members were able to identify the best land for farming, livestock, or architecture.

After lunch, where Dr. Houghton played live guitar and piano for the teams eating on the lawn alongside another mentor, came the aquatics test. Based on evaluating water quality, this exam was one of the most difficult of the day. Basins of water were provided and filled with freshwater plants and insects of different varieties. The task was to rate the exact water quality of each basin along with the strategies involved with clearing and managing the lake going forward. Team 2 was able to grab the top score for this section as well.

The final test of the day was the forestry exam. Participants were asked to identify different trees based on sight, as well as to identify several from only seeing a few needles from a given plant. There were comprehensive questions on the structures of individual trees as well as that of different forests in New Hampshire. Given a modified yard stick, one task was to measure the exact height of a large maple tree, its exact circumference, and the amount of 16 foot boards that could be taken from the log were it to be chopped down. In this category, Calvin Demers helped to secure the top score for Goffstown, with Hannah Laidlaw as a close second.

Overall the NH Envirothon was a massive success for Goffstown, placing first and second in almost every category; as well as overall. Despite the tasks being a far sight harder than they have in the past thirty years, competitors passed with flying colors. The entire class is so proud of the accomplishments they made on that day. Awards won are worn as badges of honor on bags, wallets, keys, and cars. As for the future, Goffstown Team two is considering, along with Dr. Houghton, traveling to Ohio, where the national competition is held. Who knows? Perhaps we can hope to see our classmates at the global competition, competing with like-minded individuals from across the globe!

(L to R) Sam Cullen, Westley Mitchell, Ronnie Morgan, Alec Balke, Hannah Laidlaw, Maggie Jorczak
(L to R) Taryn Ouellette, Lilith Cadorette, Calvin Demers, Jana Anders, and Alex Magin
The winning trophies. First and Second place.