Published on March 30, 2012 by Mary Wimberley  

For the second year, Berry Middle School student Daniel Picard won first place in the State Geographic Bee, held Friday (March 30) at Samford University.  Picard, a seventh grader, also won the state title as a sixth grader in 2011.

Picard, son of Michele and Lee Picard of Hoover, correctly answered "Strait of Hormuz" to the question, "What body of water connects the Gulf of Oman with the Persian Gulf?" to win the championship round. 

He received a $100 cash prize, "The Complete National Geographic" on DVD, an all-expenses trip to Washington D.C. for the national finals May 22-24, and his second chance to be crowned National Geographic Bee champion.  First prize in the national competition is a $25,000 college scholarship.

Nicholas Squillacote, a seventh grade student at Drake Middle School in Auburn, finished second. The son of Sheila Mehta and Michael Squillacote, he received $75 and digital issues of the magazine.

Christopher Lough, a sixth grade student at Prattville Christian Academy, finished third. The son of Brandi and Chris Lough, he received $50 and digital issues of the magazine.

Alabama's top 100 geography students, all in grades four through eight, competed in Friday's event.  The competitors had qualified after winning contests in their schools and placing among the top 100 scorers in the state on a test administered by the National Geographic Society. They represented schools in 25 Alabama counties.

The 2012 state competition was hosted for the ninth year by Samford's geography department.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.