The Penn Ohio Watershed Association hosted the 10th annual Pymatuning/Shenango Watershed Challenge at Munnell Run Farm on Oct. 21. Fifteen middle school teams from Trumbull and Mahoning counties, Ohio, and Crawford, Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania attended the outdoor environmental competition.

The teams were tested in five resource categories, including aquatics, forestry, soils, watersheds and wildlife. Each category was presented by different natural resource professionals from the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

Team members were comprised of sixth-, seventh- or eighth-grade students who had to work together to complete a 20-point test at each station. Teams were able to interact with the natural resource professionals, as some test questions were site specific and/or hands-on.

Aquatics featured questions related to fish and macroinvertebrate identification. Forestry had students identifying tree species and the age of a tree “cookie.” The soils portion of the competition included an in-depth presentation on the importance of soil. An Enviroscape (table-top watershed model) demonstration was part of the watersheds session. Mounts and pelts of the area and suburban wildlife could be seen at the wildlife station.

Amy Reeher, chair of the Penn Ohio Watershed Association, was pleased with the increase in the number of participants. Every county in the Pymatuning/Shenango Watershed was represented except Ashtabula.

The association is hopeful that next year’s competition might include teams from Ashtabula County. She has already asked the volunteers and presenters with contacts at the schools for assistance in finding potential teams.

A luncheon and awards ceremony followed the competition. First place in this year’s challenge went to Conneaut Lake H20 Heroes. Members of the H20 Heroes include Lianna Byler, Julianna Jacobs, Megan Kantz, Kaitlynn Royal and Rebekah Shearer. Team advisor is Bret McCartney.

Second place at the Watershed Challenge went to Conneaut Lake Krispy Kremers. Members of the team include Emmitt Gerber, Riley Paris, Meaera Shannon, Nathaniel Turner and Emily Wenko. Their advisor is Peg Jacobs.

Other participating Crawford County teams came from Conneaut Valley and Saegertown Junior-Senior High School.

Any middle school teachers who are interested in participating in future Watershed Challenges may contact Reeher at (330) 637-2056, extension 111, for more information.

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