Envirothons challenge students to think about environment in new ways

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Many soil and water conservation offices have been busy working with high school students who compete in the area Envirothons.

For those unfamiliar with the Envirothon, it is an environmental education competition that tests high school students’ knowledge of soil, forestry, aquatic ecology, wildlife and current environmental issues.

Envirothon. In Ohio, the Envirothon is sponsored by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Natural resource and environmental specialists from many agencies, organizations, colleges, universities, park districts and businesses devise the Envirothon questions and staff the various test stations.

The Envirothon is designed to stimulate, reinforce and enhance interest in the environment and natural resources among high school students. It also encourages cooperative decision-making and team building. While each student on the team is challenged to contribute his or her personal best, the score that counts at the end is the team score.

Financing

The Ohio Envirothon is financed by grants, donations from businesses and through contributions to the Don Rehl Memorial Envirothon Fund. Many local businesses also provide services and products in support of Area and Ohio Envirothons.

This year’s current environmental issue is salt and fresh water estuaries. An estuary is a wide body of water formed where a large river meets the sea. It contains both fresh and salt water.

Winners

The top four teams in the five area Envirothons in Ohio are eligible to attend the state Envirothon, which will be held at Bowling Green State University in Wood County this year. The winning state team will go to the (North American) Canon Envirothon, which will be held in Sackville, New Brunswick, in eastern Canada.

The Canon Envirothon is North America’s largest high school environmental education competition and began in 1979. It reaches more than 500,000 students across North America annually.

There are 45 states and nine provinces that participate in the Canon Envirothon.

Winners from the Canon Envirothon are awarded over $125,000 in scholarships. The top 10 teams are awarded prizes for their schools.

State competition

In 2009, Granville High School won the Ohio’s state competition and moved on to the Canon Envirothon in Asheville, N.C. As a result of the experience from this event, all five student made the decision to major in environmental fields as they headed off to college.

When I began my career at the Carroll Soil and Water Conservation District, I had no knowledge of the Envirothon. So it has been a great learning experience for me. I have had the opportunity to attend 12 area Envirothons and four state Envirothons. My goal is to go to at least one Canon Envirothon.

First to go to state

A few years ago, Carroll County had its first team go to state. It was a great experience for all of us. The team came in third in the state and also won the rookie team of the event.

The favorite event for me was the oral presentations. Being able to orally communicate natural resource material is crucial in addressing environmental problems/issues, particularly in situations where collaborative efforts are required to develop practical solutions and effect change.

Presentations

The teams are all given the same scenario and materials to help them produce a solution to the scenario. The teams are sequestered for four hours in order to come up with their presentations.

The next morning, each team has five minutes to present before three judges, which include college professors and management from fields affected by the scenario. Each student must participate equally in the presentation. The students decide if their team advisor can be present. Each presentation is taped and is sent home with the teams.

We would not be able to have this event if it were not for the many volunteers, and the team advisers who volunteer many hours with these students and are major contributors to this event. We at the Soil and Water Conservation Districts would like to thank all the advisers for their effort to make this event a success.

About the Author

Linda Yeager has lived in Carroll County all her life. She has been with the Carroll SWCD since 2001 where she serves as the district administrator. More Stories by Linda Yeager

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