Greta Ahlefeld knows her geography, though she admits she's never been "crazy into the subject."

An eighth-grade student at Mount View Middle School, Greta won the National Geographic "GeoBee" held at her school in January. She later took an online "qualifying test" that was submitted to the National Geographic Society for consideration in the qualifying rounds of the state competition.

In Waldo County, Greta was one of four students who qualified for the state competition. Sixth-grader Rohan Joseph of Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, fifth-grader Owen Robichaud of Palermo Consolidated School and eighth-grader Stephanie Clisham of Wagner Middle School in Winterport also qualified.

Greta said that while she was observing her brother at the state swim meet in Orono a few weeks ago, her dad got an email saying she had qualified for the state GeoBee.

"When that happened I was sort of surprised," Greta said. "I didn't think I was really going to make it. I was excited, too."

The National Geographic GeoBee competition, which is now in its 31st year, is held in schools with fourth- through eighth-grade students throughout the state.

According to Faith Campbell, social studies teacher and GeoBee coordinator for Mount View Middle School, a total of 85 students participated in the preliminary round there. The other students with the highest scores after the preliminary round included Isaac Ellis, Tyler Russell, Anna St. Onge, Isaac Widmer, Elizabeth Roberts, Ella Sawyer, Lydia Schofield and Noah Cote.

Asked how she prepares for such a competition Greta said, "Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed because I don't know how to study because there is so much to learn. I have been looking at a map or an atlas, memorizing where countries are and their capitals, learning about the oceans and seas."

But she said her family has pitched in to help her prepare for the competition. "My mom asks me questions out of the blue, like 'What is the capital of Macedonia?'" she said.

"I have downloaded some apps that have geography questions, and my family helps quiz me, too."

The state winner will receive $1,000, as well as a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national competition in May; second- and third-place winners will receive cash awards of $300 and $100, respectively.

An overall national winner will receive a $25,000 scholarship, $1,000 in cash, a lifetime membership in the National Geographic Society, and an all-expense-paid trip to the Galapagos Islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavor II. The second-place winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship and $1,000 in cash; third place will receive $1,000 in cash.

"I think it's a pretty big deal. I always thought it would be cool to compete in something like this," she said. "I've never done anything quite like this and I'm excited to go to the state finals and hopefully do well."