May 3, 2019 - For some, it’s just dirt.
But for one group of students at Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts, earth’s soil is not only a harvesting ground for life, it’s also a place of discovery – one where they can learn more about the environment and each other.
These "down to earth" students demonstrated their mastery of the environment at last week's state-wide Envirothon -- an annual competition that tests student's knowledge of diverse environmental topics such as soil and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and the role of technology in agriculture.
The students a.k.a "Team Dasher" took home a first-place medal in the Current Issue Presentation category. The students spoke for five minutes about how to mitigate nutrient pollution from agricultural runoff into the Suwannee River watershed.
“I was super proud of them!” said Scott Sowell, team coach and science instructor.
Sowell, is well acquainted with this competition. Over the past several years, he has paved the way to numerous team victories at regionals by establishing roots in study materials and hands-on activities.
“We’re the team everyone wants to beat,” said Sowell.
In addition to their first-place medal at state, the team also dominated their regional competition held in April. Why are they so successful? Sowell said he finds that roughly 75 percent of material in the Envirothon competition mirror the work that is done in his AP Environmental Science class.
Students like 11th-grader Rebecca Rivera-Clapp say they were inspired to participate in Envirothon after taking Sowell's class.
"I participate in Envirothon because what I had learned in AP Environmental Science fascinated me and inspired me to learn more about our environment," said Rivera-Clapp. "By joining Envirothon, I learn more about the issues caused by invasive species, new technologies and how humans can help to keep the planet clean."
Rivera-Clapp's classmate, Stephanie Garcia also said she joined the team after taking Sowell's course. Both experiences led her to being committed to taking care of the environment.
"It sparked a change in the small things I do that affect the environment and inspired me to share all that I know with others so they can too help in any way they can," said Garcia.