The unofficial theme for this year’s Envirothon, an environmental competition for high school students, was “adapting to a novel environment.” Typically, the Envirothon is an in-person contest where teams meet and compete at an area level, and then again at a state level if they place high enough.
The test categories include aquatics, soils, forestry, wildlife, and a current environmental issue. It helps prepare students for higher education and career paths in natural resources and conservation.
Located outdoors, testing occurs at a series of stations that highlight specific natural resource topics. This year, of course, looked drastically different. Teams had to adapt to the novel coronavirus, just like the plants and animals on which they were being tested must adapt to their natural world to survive.
The Delaware Area Career Center (DACC) Blue Team placed second out of 28 teams, surviving the first round of the first-ever virtual Envirothon competition. Ethan Yorke, Griffin Bailey, Danny Carman, Amanda Sugerik, and Alex Bell made up this team of seniors. Dona Rhea, Wildlife and Resource Management Instructor at DACC, advises the team. Normally, this first round would take place at the regional level, which includes 17 counties in south central Ohio and their soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs).
Instead of meeting in person, teams met through Zoom video conferencing to confer with each other for five separate timed tests on the above categories. Placing as high as the DACC team did was no easy feat, considering the unexpected turn of events in their school year. They weren’t provided with the usual learning opportunities and collaboration that they regularly would have had in preparation for the Envirothon.
For this year’s state level competition, the top six placing teams had to create a five-minute video presentation by again working together through Zoom. The DACC team placed fifth out of six teams in this second level state round. We are proud to have the DACC team represent our county with this achievement.
The National Envirothon, along with many state Envirothons across the country, understandably canceled this year, but the Ohio Envirothon Committee was committed to keeping Ohio students engaged in 2020. Even with a virtual contest, seniors had a chance to build upon the knowledge they learned last year, and juniors got practice for next year. In a time when most events were being called off, we know that the teams appreciated having some sense of normalcy. We hope that we are able to hold a typical Envirothon in 2021.
If you know a high school student who is interested in natural resources or conservation, find out how they can get a team involved in the 2021 Envirothon by visiting our website or emailing email@example.com. We congratulate the DACC team and wish them luck in their college and career endeavors!
Erin Wolfe is the outreach coordinator of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us.