To be a medalist in any event can be considered an accomplishment by any standard. To do so when the odds are against the individual or team is even more impressive.
The five members of the Sacred Heart Environthon team and coach Barb Hagebusch discovered that feeling firsthand when they won third place in the state competition April 28.
“We were so surprised, because I don’t think any of us thought we would win,” Emma Rollings said. “I think we were hoping for a top 10 finish but we really expected to finish third.”
Rollings, along with her teammates Abby Smeltzer, Sadie Rollings, Rachel Ulbrich and Adrianna Belles, competed April 28 at the George Washington Carver Center at Lincoln University in Jefferson City in the event to determine the outstanding environmental studies team in the state.
The event, comprised of five specialized 40-minute tests and an oral presentation, required the teams to know all aspects of Missouri’s environment ranging from wildlife and aquatics to forestry, soils and current events.
“Each one of us had an area we really specialized in,” Ulbrich said. “During the tests we could talk to each other and consult each other but we really had our own areas that we focused on.
“In the oral presentation we all had to answer and participate because if we didn’t they would take points off our total,” Ulbrich added. “They really wanted it to be a team effort; we learned that after the regional competition.”
The Central Regional Competition was hosted at the Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City.
“We finished third at regionals so I think that was one of the reasons we were so surprised by our finish at state,” Sadie Rollings said. “We were competing against much larger schools and they had beaten us before so we thought of that when we were waiting for the results.”
Smith-Cotton, who finished fourth in the state tournament, had defeated the team in regionals.
With no FFA chapter at Sacred Heart and a limited number of classes to help them prepare, the girls found they spent a lot of late nights and weekends studying both together and on their own to prepare for the event.
“Mrs. Hagebusch really helped us to study because she made incredible study binders for us,” Belles said. “We studied a lot of material from the Department of Conservation and that really helped us too.”
Emma Rollings was the only returning member to the team because some of the members were seniors last year and others chose not to return this year.
There was added interest in the event this year and Sacred Heart was able to field two teams in the regional competition. The second team from SHS finished sixth at Jefferson City and did not qualify for state.
“I am really proud of the girls and all of the work they put into this because they really have to do a lot of this on their own time,” Hagebusch said. “They all wear a lot of hats and are extremely busy with their athletic responsibilities and work and studies.
“They had to rearrange their schedules quite a few times and they put in late nights after games and practices and on weekends to get together and study and prepare,” she added. “I know we are all looking forward to next year and watching the program continue to grow.”
All five members of the team are underclassmen and hope to compete next year.
“I really had to prepare for this because it was surprising how much I didn’t know about a lot of the areas on the test and our state resources,” Smeltzer said. “I think that is one of the goals of the competition, to educate and communicate this information with others.”
Emma Rollings agreed with her teammate.
“I find I am becoming fascinated with soils, and they are surprisingly interesting,” Emma Rollings said. “It’s amazing the diversity of wildlife and natural resources in our state.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484