At the buzzer: ESF wins Society of American Forester’s Quiz Bowl competition

Micah Benson | Art Director

SUNY-ESF beat out 33 other college forestry departments from across the country to win the Society of American Foresters Student Quiz Bowl last week.

“It was an honor, it validated everything that I have done over the past 2 1/2 years in terms of preparing to become a professional forester,” Patrick Dolan, the team’s captain and a senior forest and natural resources management major at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, said in an email.

Besides Dolan, the other members of the team were Kelly Nywening, a graduate student in the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management, Jeremy Newland, a senior in the Forest Ecosystem Science program, and Lauren O’Connor, a senior forest and natural resources management major.

The five-day convention took place in Spokane, Wash. The competition was structured like Jeopardy, Dolan said. Each team competed once per round and faced off against another team.

In each round there were 15 questions worth five points each for the first team that buzzed in. The team had 10 seconds to discuss, and then the captain had to give the answer, Dolan said.

“Winning involved a lot of strategy because one wrong answer in a round often meant you lost, so it was important to be certain you knew the answer when you buzzed in,” he said.

In the final round, ESF went up against Oregon State University, the two-time defending champions who were heavily favored to win, Dolan said.

The team only got two answers wrong, and Dolan said he was confident in his team’s ability to win the entire time.

Dolan attributed the win to the team members studying hard, both in weekly study sessions and on their own, and their strategy of designating one team member an “expert” in each potential topic, depending on career aspirations and interests.

“I believe the key to our success was that on almost any question asked I was confident that at least two of my teammates knew the answer,” he said.

Dolan said he didn’t remember any particularly hard question, but that “it is hard to stump a stumpy.

Nywening, another team member, said she signed up for the quiz bowl in order to attend the convention. She said having teammates was not only helpful when you don’t know the answer, but for talking each other out of a wrong answer.

When the team members weren’t competing they attended the convention, Dolan said.

“Although we skipped the events on Saturday when we rented a car and explored the Forests of the Pacific Northwest as any true forester would have,” he said.

Upon returning from the convention, the ESF Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management congratulated the team on its win, Nywening said. The team got to take the quiz-bowl trophy home, and it will be displayed in the Bray Hall rotunda for the next year, she said.

Though the trophy was a great prize, the real reward was less tangible, Dolan said.

“The real prize though is the recognition from forestry professionals that comes from being the quiz bowl winner,” she said.

Dolan said he hopes he can follow up his win with an employment offer and a successful career.

There is a rivalry in the forestry world between the East and West coasts, and Dolan said he was proud ESF was able to take home the trophy for the East.

Said Dolan: “We went to what is arguably the great bastion of forestry in the west and beat a highly favored western forestry school in order to bring the trophy back to its rightful place on the East Coast at ESF.”



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