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Envirothon trophy time in Skaneateles

Envirothon team representing Onondaga County comes home with trophy -- and lifelong knowledge.

When Andrew Middleton gives directions to a friend, he might catch himself saying "turn left at the Sugar Maple." He can't help it. After three years on the Envirothon Team at Skaneateles High School, Middleton is on a first-name basis with most living things -- from trees and shrubs to soils and wildlife.

He is the senior member of this year's Envirothon Team, which won the Onondaga County and regional competitions and recently placed second at the 18th annual New York State Envirothon at SUNY Cobleskill. His teammates include junior Molly O'Donnell, junior Kristin Roberts, junior Danielle Sommers and sophomore Elizabeth Shoenfelt.

Staff advisor Rick Garrett praised the team for its win. "They placed 2nd at the State competition which is really quite remarkable when you consider that this competition started out with literally hundreds of teams at the regional level from all high schools in New York State," he said.

The areas in which the students competed and were tested included aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and alternative energy (the current event topic this year). While every team member studied every category, they also each had an area of expertise.

Middleton, who focused on the current event of alternative energy, said the most interesting thing he earned this year is that the most energy efficient ethanol crop is sugar beets.

Sommers, whose area of responsibility was wildlife, said she now knows how to identify birds by their calls. In addition to the hours of studying she did with her teammates, she walked around listening to bird calls on her ipod.

"Now I can't turn it off," she said. When the birds start chirping at 5 a.m., she can't just sleep through it any more. She hears them and knows who they are by the sounds of their calls.

Photo: Last minute studying (in a stream!) Danielle Sommers, Kristin Roberts and Elizabeth Shoenfelt do some stream work.The Skaneateles High School Envirothon team represented Onondaga County at the state competition, and came in second place. The top team was Candor Central School from Tioga county.

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