After spending eight months on their research projects – and giving their first of what could be many important scientific presentations – three Morgantown High School students will be rewarded with a trip to the nation’s capital this month.

As part of West Virginia University’s EnvironMentors Chapter, Emma Mathers, Kasey Bolyard and Zoie McNeill will attend the National EnvironMentors Fair in Washington, D.C., May 20. Daniel Pan, who tied with McNeill for third, will attend if one of the others is unable to do so.

The students competed against 17 of their peers in a juried poster session during WVU’s EnvironMentors fair in late April.

EnvironMentors is a national environment-based mentoring program developed by the National Council for Science and Environment. The program provides high school students the opportunity to work with researchers and professionals to develop scientifically rigorous research projects. The program also promotes future studies and careers in environmental science fields.

WVU was selected as a university chapter in May 2011 and is currently one of 13 chapters. The three students from WVU will compete in the national fair against the top representatives from the other universities for scholarship prize money.

“Our program introduces students to scientific research early and gives them a unique perspective of how college ‘works’ at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said Catherin Artis, coordinator for the WVU EnvironMentors Chapter. “Many of our mentors are current graduate students performing their own independent research. This means they are in an ideal position to explain the research process and discuss their own transition from high school into an undergraduate program and how that led them to where they are today.”

Mathers, a second-year EnvironMentors participant, earned first place for her research project exploring the purification of chemically and bacterially contaminated waters using organic filtration materials. She was mentored by Jessica Odenheimer, a master’s student in agronomy from Ashburn, Va.

Bolyard placed second with her project dedicated to using sulfate-reducing bacteria to treat acid mine drainage in West Virginia. She was mentored by Carol Brown, an agronomy student from Avon, Ohio.

McNeill finished third with her project on the analysis of people’s views on meat consumption and the environmental health aspects connected to it. She was mentored by Zachary Ryerson, a recreation, parks and tourism resources student from Lone Tree, Iowa.

Additionally, Daniel Pan, also a second-year participant, finished third for his research on the effects of soil organic matter content on Monongalia County B Horizon Soil Water Holding Capacity. He was mentored by Christopher Caplinger, a recreation, parks and tourism resources student from Dunmore, W.Va.

Due to participant restrictions at the national fair, Todd Petty, professor of wildlife and fisheries resources and director of the WVU EnvironMentors program, used a tiebreaker to determine which of the third place finishers would advance.
For more information on the EnvironMentors program or if you are interested in becoming a mentor, please contact Artis at



CONTACT: Catherine Artis, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design,

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