Viera students enjoy trip to Colorado for NOSB


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Members of Viera High School's Ocean Bowl team are, from left, teacher/coach Morgan Woodard, Cameron Shearer, Maggie Zendehrouh, Hannah Howe, Zack Chace, Alyssa Hofmann and coach Oscar Sang. The team placed in the top 20 out of 23 teams at this year's national competition.

VIERA VOICE Courtesy of Debbie Tweedie

Five Viera High School students got to experience a little bit of everything at this year’s finals of the 21st annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) in Boulder, Colo., in late April.

“It even snowed when we were walking to the competition,” senior Alyssa Hofmann said.

Viera’s Ocean Bowl team, which qualified for the event for the second year in a row by winning the Manatee Bowl in South Florida earlier this year, placed among the top 20 at the national competition.

The five team members — seniors Hofmann, Hannah Howe and Cameron Shearer, along with juniors Maggie Zendehrouh and Zack Chace — also got to meet mentors and top experts in the field of marine science.

For a field trip, they helped plant 200 trees and shrubs in an area that had been damaged by flooding.

Shearer said he was amazed with the scenery in Colorado, and he wasn’t the only one to come away impressed with Boulder.

“It was a really great experience,” Howe said. “Colorado was really super neat just because the entire culture there is really different than anything down here. It was crazy, all the differences there.

“You could see it in the way that they ate and the way they treated the environment. They were really conscious about what they were doing to the environment, which was really neat.”

Though there was some disappointment the team did not repeat last year’s finish of ninth place, the students termed the overall trip a huge success for a number of different reasons.

Not only did they get to spend more time together as friends, but they also got to be around like-minded people who share a passion for marine science.

“It gives you a little hope,” Howe said. “I feel like a lot of people don’t think of marine science as something that needs to be a top priority, or as a field that anyone should ever go into.

“Like if I ever say I want to go into marine science, someone will say, ‘Well, why don’t you go into the medical field?’ It’s really eye-opening to see just how many people agree that the ocean is something that is very important to who we are and how we live.”

Morgan Woodard, who teaches marine sciences at Viera and served as the team’s coach along with her mother, Debbie Tweedie, and Viera High alumnus Oscar Sang, were happy with the way her team performed throughout the year.

“They were a really close team this year,” Woodard said. “They knew each other’s nuances and strengths and weaknesses and played off that. They were really motivating to each other. The national trip bonded them even more, which was nice.”