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Photo of the MATES Envirothon Team - Click to enlarge
For Immediate Release: May 6, 2014
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954 

(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today announced, for the fifth year in a row, a team of high school students from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences (MATES) in Manahawkin was the winner of the New Jersey Envirothon, held Saturday, May 3 at the New Jersey School of Conservation of Montclair State University in Branchville.

The team consisted of Jillian Hubbard  of Manchester, Gillian Schriever of Little Egg Harbor,  Megan Tumpey of Brick, Lauren Zodl of Little Egg Harbor, and Michael Signorelli of Toms River.  All except Zodl were on last year’s winning Envirothon team. 

The Ocean County students competed against 33 other teams on knowledge of natural resources-related topics, including soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife ecology and a current environmental issue. This year’s theme was “Sustainable Local Agriculture/Locally Grown.”

“The New Jersey Envirothon not only provides the winning team with college scholarships but gives all participants the opportunity to gain important skills regarding the environment, natural resources and science,” said Secretary Fisher. “The knowledge they gained from preparing for and taking part in the Envirothon will help them in whatever career path they take.  After this experience, we hope they will consider careers in agriculture and natural resources-related fields.”

Each of the MATES team members received $1,500 scholarships from the New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts, $2,000 scholarships from Richard Stockton State College and $1,000 scholarships from Applied and Health Sciences at Kean University.  MATES Advisor Adam Sprague said all of their team members have utilized their scholarship money.

“The Envirothon is very competitive and the trick to winning starts with having great students that are willing to dedicate a great deal of time in preparation,” said Sprague. “The students also must be able to collaborate as a team.  There is an incredible amount of information to go through. As an advisor my job is to help the students understand the information and also help in managing what areas they should be focusing on.”

The second-place team in this year’s Envirothon was High Tech High School, North Bergen and third place was taken by West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North.  Last year, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North placed second and High Tech High School came in third.

The Envirothon is sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, State Soil Conservation Committee; New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts; the 15 Soil Conservation Districts; United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service; New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; and Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

The 15 Soil Conservation Districts in New Jersey follow county boundaries and implement the New Jersey Soil and Sediment Control Act, which governs certain aspects of new development.  These semi-autonomous bodies are locally governed and play a strong role in the protection of New Jersey’s natural resources.