Envirothon team wins first place at Virginia Envirothon state competition


Photo courtesy of Kim Portillo

The Envirothon team poses for a picture after winning competition.

Silas Spears, Online Editor in Chief

The Harrisonburg High School Envirothon team placed first  at the Virginia Envirothon state competition held at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) Monday, May 16. Members of the team include juniors An Pham, Anish Aradhey, seniors Grisell Plata Gayosso, Kim Portillo Martinez and Timothy Violett. The team advisor is science teacher Gretchen Cessna.

“The competition was stiff but the students have worked hard and shown remarkable initiative in developing their skills and understanding of the Envirothon topics. They placed third in the oral presentation, second in the soils, forestry and wildlife categories and first in this year’s current issue which was ‘Waste to Resources,’” Cessna said. The team was unsure that they would place as scores were very close in all of the events. 

“The awards ceremony was a bit of a nail biter with some very close scores. Their second places in soils and forestry were only one point behind the first place teams in those categories. In the end, they prevailed over both of the longstanding top two teams in Virginia (Louisa County High School and Jamestown High School),” Cessna said.

Portillo was one of the competitors who really enjoyed competing as well as learning.

“[The competition] was fun because I got to spend the entire day outside with a really cool group of people who all knew a variety of things about trees and [the] history of environmental science,” Portillo said. “There are different types of things that everyone needs to know about such as] aquatics, soils, tree identification and special topics.”

The team is now eligible to represent Virginia at the National Envirothon Competition in Ohio this upcoming  July.  

“We can go to nationals which is really cool because I don’t think we have been able to do that since [Myron] Blosser [was the advisor of] Envirothon,” Portillo said.