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Delaware Envirothon team from Wilmington Charter School is near the top in North American competition



More than 260 high school students from over 40 states and nine Canadian provinces journeyed to Lake Success in Geneva, N.Y., recently to compete in the 2007 Canon Envirothon. When the competition came to a close, Delaware’s five-member team from the Charter School of Wilmington emerged as the third best in North America.


Team members Lauren Bleakney, Matthew Fischel, Michael Napolitano, Neil Nayak and Rebecca Roelofs, guided by advisor Beenu Gupta and assistant advisor Dr. Rakesh Gupta, brought home $15,000 in scholarships and photographic equipment – their share of more than $100,000 awarded in education and prizes by the event's sponsor.


The Envirothon challenge is a problem-solving, natural resource education program for teams coming from private and public schools statewide as well as 4-H clubs. The Wilmington team won the opportunity to represent Delaware in this year’s Canon Envirothon after taking first place out of 14 teams in the annual state competition held in May.


At the Envirothon, students are challenged on problem-solving skills and teamwork in the field, then must answer written questions and conduct hands-on investigations in aquatic ecology, forestry, soil/land use, wildlife, and public speaking, as well as taking on a current ecological issue, such as this year’s theme, Alternative/Renewable Energy. Competition concludes with an oral presentation of the team’s recommendations for solving the challenge.


Photo by Stuart Lee

The Delaware Envirothon team from the Charter School of Wilmington that captured third place out of more than 40 states and nine Canadian provinces were, left to right: Advisor Beenu Gupta, Neil Nayak, Rebecca Roelofs, Lauren Bleakley, Matthew Fischel, Michael Napolitano, and Assistant Advisor Dr. Rakesh Gupta. 


“We are all very proud of their accomplishments,” said Rick Mickowski, of the New Castle Conservation District, who chaired the Delaware Envirothon planning committee. “I can personally vouch that the team spent many hours this summer preparing for the Canon Envirothon, and each student along with team advisors Beenu and Rakesh Gupta are to be congratulated for their outstanding effort.”


In 1979, the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts started the “Environmental Olympics,” which soon spread to other states. When the first national challenge was held, in 1988, the name was changed to Envirothon. This year, more than 500,000 teenagers competed at the state level.


Delaware’s first competition was held in 1996, and now takes place on the first Thursday in May, with locations rotating throughout the state. This year’s event was held at James Farm, managed by the Center for the Inland Bays. Next year it will move to a location in New Castle County.


For more information about the Delaware Envirothon, including volunteering, please contact Rick Mickowski at 302-832-3100.


For more information about the Envirothon, including the 2008 North American competition to be held July 28 through Aug. 3 in Flagstaff, Arizona, please visit

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