Nine students from Loudoun County schools won awards for their science projects and nature journals. Three high school students won for their science projects and six students in grades K-12 won for their nature journals.
Each year Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC) awards three cash prizes at the Loudoun County Regional Science and Engineering Fair to students whose science projects reflect the organization’s goals. On March 17, a team of seven LWC members participated in judging the 30th Annual fair at Woodgrove High School in Purcellville. This event involved 220 high school students from Loudoun County’s twelve high schools and the Loudoun County Public Schools Academy of Science.
This year’s 1st Place Special Award of $350 went to Molly Booth of Briar Woods High School for her project titled “Observing the Effect of Human Disturbance on Low Trophic Level Biodiversity.” The purpose of her research was to observe the effect of human disturbance on plant and arthropod biodiversity in order to study human impact on managed ecosystems at Blandy Experimental Farm.
Ashley Lohr, a senior from Loudoun Valley High School, won our 2nd Place Award of $250. If Ashley’s name seems familiar, you may remember that she was awarded a cash prize from LWC at the 2009 Science Fair for her work with butterflies and color preference. This year, Ashley enhanced her previous research by investigating the hypothesis that “the flowers most frequently visited by butterflies, especially the red and pink shades, will contain the highest levels of disaccharides.” Ashley graduates this year and will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall.
Third Place Award and a cash prize of $150 went to sophomore Sean O’Neil from Loudoun County High School for his project “The Effect of Organic Substances on Stink Bugs.” Sean’s intention was to find a way to control this introduced insect pest by identifying repellents and attractions that exhibited a high success rate.
Now in its 11th year, the Peterson Young Naturalist Award program was started at Waterford Elementary School in 2000 and was opened up to all Loudoun County public schools three years later. It recognizes students who create the best journal in natural science field investigation, and it encourages first hand observation skills practiced by naturalists worldwide as exemplified by the life and work of Roger Tory Peterson (1908-1996). Peterson was a world-renowned ornithologist, naturalist, artist, teacher and author who played a pivotal role in popularizing the study of natural history.
Each award consists of cash, a certificate, and a field guide written and illustrated by Roger Tory Peterson. One student is awarded per school. The judges are representatives of Loudoun County Public Schools, the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, Rust Nature Sanctuary, and the Smithsonian Naturalist Center. The award program is administered by a partnership between Miriam Westervelt, stepdaughter of Virginia and Roger Tory Peterson, the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, and the Rust Nature Sanctuary.
This year’s winners are:
• Amelia Chen, Kindergartner. Mrs. Birmingham’s English Language Learners class at Ashburn Elementary School.
• Caroline Catterton, 3rd grader from Waterford Elementary School.
• Jessica Todas, 3rd grader in Mrs. Weitz’s English Language Learners class at Countryside Elementary School.
• Hannah Chapples, Mrs. Francis’s Environmental Exploration class at Loudoun County High School.
• Morgan Allis, Mrs. Westervelt’s Environmental Explorations class, Tuscarora High School.
• Hannah Desherow, Environmental Science student of Liam McGranaghan, Loudoun Valley High School.
The awards for all winners were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy on June 5.