By Sofia Weddle
Have you ever met a Sheldon Cooper with Willy Wonka-sized dreams? Senior Harrison Montgomery is exactly that. Harrison, an observant, yet ever so lax senior, is part of the selective mentorship program at Glenelg High School where students conduct scholarly research and intern at a place of their choosing. Every day, this senior commutes to Sharp Farm for his research and internship, accomplishing environment-changing work.
While Montgomery maintains a busy schedule through a myriad of AP and science courses, such as Chemistry and Physics, he is modifying the norms of farming to adjust to the ever-changing environment through his mentorship. Specifically, he is passionately working to decrease levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil, which tend to remain in the ground instead of dissolving into the atmosphere. Through natural run-off, too much phosphorus and other nutrients enter the Chesapeake Bay, which, according to Montgomery, “creates algae blooms”. This issue can be seen through much of United States farmland and agriculture, although Montgomery’s workplace, Sharp Farm, has done well in decreasing harmful nutrients in their ground.
While this problem may seem inconsequential, that is far from the truth. In reality, Montgomery reports that when “algae [blooms] die… the bacteria decomposes takes all the oxygen out of the water, and kills fish”. Adding further to the problem, says Montgomery, is the fact that there are many poisonous types of algae that release toxins into the water harmful to both humans and aquatic animals. But, Montgomery has an inventive solution that involves growing plants and cutting them away with the nutrients (including phosphorus) absorbed inside of them, instead of remaining in the soil.
Although Montgomery is unsure of what the future holds for him, his dream would be to be accepted into the University of Calgary to study chemistry or agriculture. Afterwards, he would love to live in a city or town in South America, but he is open to a world of possibilities. Like many, he wants “to do something exciting”, such as traveling, becoming an innovative farmer who “grows chocolate trees”, or working for an oil company as a chemist. He also loves to garden and grow tropical plants like coffee and citrus fruits, making him the go-to guy for “plant knowledge”.
Overall, Montgomery says that mentorship has impacted his research skills and passion for the environment tremendously. Whichever path he ends up choosing for his future, there is no doubt that his inquisitive and sharp personality will lead him on to be the best environmental chemist or farmer there ever was.