A team of high school students developed a winning urban forestry plan to capture the 2015 Arizona Envirothon championship Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.
Each student on the winning five-member team and their coach from Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center – Paradise Valley won a trip to Missouri State University this summer to compete against teams from the other states and Canadian provinces for scholarships and prizes at the National Conservation Foundation Envirothon (formerly North American Envirothon).
Urban forests are essential to quality of life. They are essential in tourism-driven communities and help to off-set the “heat island” effect in desert Southwest cities. Planning forests that extend through community common areas, business districts and residential areas in an arid environment is a particular challenge.
The AAEC team and eleven other Arizona teams designed a 10-acre community demonstration plot specific to an Arizona desert community park.
The winning design included replacing inappropriate existing trees and selecting drought tolerant species that would mature quickly, yet be aesthetic and sustainable in the neighborhood for generations. The students’ plan would serve as a demonstration area so that local residents and businesses could gain information and ideas for developing treed areas on their own properties.
The Arizona teams also demonstrated their expertise in field science skills in aquatic ecology, water quality assessment, forestry and wildlife management, soil science and land use planning at the Roy P. Drachman Agua Caliente Regional Park in Pima County.
Other schools competing were from Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center in Phoenix; Girls Leadership Academy in Phoenix; Raymond S. Kellis High School in Glendale; Youngker High School in Buckeye; Centennial High School in Peoria; BASIS Scottsdale, Cienega High School in Vail, and Tri-City College Prep in Prescott.
“Most of these students are from urban schools,” said Rodney Held, Arizona Envirothon Chairman. “It is very apparent that the students appreciate the benefits trees provide to their community; they’ve demonstrated that they understand how to design an urban forest and motivate others to become active urban foresters.”
“I’d never given a second thought to urban forestry and most people take it for granted; but after preparing for this Envirothon, I know trees are important to all human beings” said AAEC team captain, junior Victoria Hoaglin. “I’ll definitely be back next year!”
Other winning AAEC team members were Mikayla Harang, Alexandrea Guzzo, Kendra Wardon and Danielle Wiggs. They were coached by Shiela McQueen and Sara Young.
Second place over-all went to AAEC Team 6 and Prescott’s Tri-City College Prep placed third.
Award winners for ecostation field testing skills were:
Soils & Land Use – 1st Centennial HS (Peoria), 2nd AAEC Team 7, and 3rd AAEC Team 6
Aquatic Ecology – 1st Tri-City Prep, 2nd AAEC Team 7, and 3rd Cienega HS (Vail, AZ)
Wildlife & Forestry – 1st AAEC Team 7, 2nd Tri-City Prep, and 3rd Cienega HS
Rookie of the Year – BASIS Scottsdale
Spirit of Envirothon 2013 – Girls Leadership Academy (Phoenix)