For the fourth straight year, high schoolers at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences (MATES) in Manahawkin win a state-sponsored environmental awareness contest and will represent New Jersey in the nationwide version.

NJ Envirothon winners from MATES Academy, Manahawkin (NJ Dept. of Agriculture)

Emily Golembiski of Little Egg Harbor, Gillian Schriever of West Creek, Jillian Hubbard and Michael Signorelli of Toms River and Megan Tumpey of  Brick, will represent New Jersey in the 2013 North American Envirothon at Montana State University in August.

They captured top honors at  the May 4 New Jersey Envirothon at Girl Scout Camp Kettle Creek in Medford, under the auspices of the state Department of Agriculture.

They bested 33 other teams with their expertise on subjects including soils, forestry, aquatics, and wildlife ecology.

This year’s theme was “Sustainable Rangeland Management: Achieving a Balance Between Traditional Agricultural Uses with Non-Agricultural Uses on Montana Rangelands.”

New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher said the competition is meant to be a springboard to the next generation of natural scientists. “We hope they take advantage of the skills they learned and consider careers in agriculture and natural resources-related fields,” he said in a statement.

Each won $1,000 scholarships from the New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts, $2,000 scholarships from Richard Stockton State College and $1,000 scholarships from Applied and Health Sciences at Kean University.

MATES Advisor Adam Sprague could hardly contain his enthusiasm and pride. "It was quite an accomplishment," he said,"considering it was the first year competing for nine out of the 10 team members. We now turn our attention to Montana which offers an exciting variety of challenges in terms of preparation for our students.”

Other sponsors of the Envirothon are the State Soil Conservation Committee; New Jersey Association of Conservation Districts; the 15 Soil Conservation Districts; United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service; New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; and Rutgers Cooperative Extension.