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Watch now: Capital High students win $6K for video on harmful algae

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Capital High HABs video

A screenshot from the Capital High students' video on the dangers of harmful algal blooms. 

Ten Capital High students were honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday in an online ceremony for the video they produced on the dangers of harmful algal blooms, or HABs.

The team from teacher Helen Bosch’s class produced the video during the school year for the EPA’s “See a Bloom, Give it Room” contest to raise awareness about how to spot and remain safe near HABs. While natural, environmental conditions may cause excessive algae growth in fresh water including potentially toxic blue-green algae, which may be harmful to human and animal health.

The competition solicited videos from high schools across the state and the region, with the Capital High team winning both the state competition and the regional competition, which includes Montana, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 27 tribal nations. Mikelle Ballard, Mariah Bogy, Kadyn Culp, Geri Cutler, Katlynn Fladland, Karina Frederick, Meghan Logan, Fallon Turner, Ady Vanluchene and Joseph Wadhams collected both a $2,000 prize for the state competition and $4,000 for the regional.

“It means everything to us,” said Vanluchene, crediting Bosch with motivating and helping the students through various setbacks.

Bosch gave the credit to the students.

“This class of students is a once-in-a-blue-moon class of students that if I give them the reins, they take off,” she said.

The video features students and a dog at Hauser Reservoir, with the dog laying on the ground and the students expressing concern. Another student enters and reports a rash after swimming in the water. The information continues to flow as additional students enter and recommend calling poison control, which provides details on the potential maladies of HABs.

The students first attempted to film at Spring Meadow Lake, but were hampered by noise from traffic. They then had to relocate to Hauser in November and faced some chilly weather.

“The most challenging part was taking a big group of kids and giving each a role to make a solid video,” said Logan, adding that some students had to wear shorts in 20-degree temperatures to portray a summer day.

The students divided the winnings equally among each other, with most planning to use the money for school expenses.

“I feel lucky to be their teacher,” Bosch said. “I’m super lucky to have this group and watch them grow and face obstacles and be successful. They’re Helena’s best.”

Capital High Principal Brett Zanto echoed the praise and creativity that went into producing the video, saying it was indication of the skills needed for higher education and the workforce.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality Director Shawn McGrath also congratulated the students not only for winning the competition, but for providing valuable information to the public on an important public health issue.

The video will be distributed across the EPA’s social media platforms and presented at the EPA HAB conference scheduled for February.

“Through hard work, solid research and creativity, these students produced a high quality, informative video that educates viewers about the dangers harmful algal blooms present to people and pets,” said EPA Region 8 Deputy Regional Administrator Deb Thomas. “I was excited to talk today with these students who have embraced and supported the EPA mission to protect human health and the environment through this challenge.”

The video can be viewed at

Reporter Tom Kuglin can be reached at 447-4076 @IR_TomKuglin


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State Reporter/Outdoors Reporter

Tom Kuglin is the deputy editor for the Lee Newspapers State Bureau. His coverage focuses on outdoors, recreation and natural resources.

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