Area III Envirothon draws 180 competitorsWhile the Wrenshall team had a very good showing, it was one of the teams from Cromwell that landed in the trophy rankings, placing fifth overall.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The Wrenshall High School team members huddled in concentration as they took a brief quiz following a presentation at the wildlife station of the Area III Envirothon on Monday. It was the final station of the day for the first-time contenders, and they said they found it “exciting” and “really interesting.”
While team members were confident in how they did on the quiz and presentation phases of the competition, they admitted that they learned a few new things along the way as well — Kayleigh Peterson now knows the differences between an aspen and a birch, and Caleb O’Connor can give you the scientific definition of a marsupial.
An Envirothon is an outdoor learning event for students in grades 9-12 and is one of the state’s largest environmental education competitions. Five-member teams train and compete in the areas of soils, aquatics, wildlife, forestry and current environmental issues.
According to this year’s organizer, Jill Carlier of the Pine County Soil and Water Conservation District, the makeup of the student teams varies. Some are from high school science or conservation classes, some are Future Farmers of America members and some are extracurricular activity groups.
After a team visits each of the stations and hears a talk by outdoor and conservation experts in each particular field, they take a 25-point exam relating to each station’s topics. At the sixth station, the students are required to give a brief oral presentation on the current events topic of the year before a panel of judges. This year’s topic concerns the environmental merits of rotational grazing.
Thirty-six teams from schools in eight counties took part in the annual competition, which has been held for the past 19 years in various locations throughout the area. The event seems to have gravitated to the Cloquet Forestry Center for the past several years, however, where classroom space and the natural environment provide the perfect backdrop for this outdoor-oriented competition.
Monday’s event took place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and while the Wrenshall team had a very good showing, it was one of the teams from Cromwell that landed in the trophy rankings, placing fifth overall. Team members included Karissa Sworski, Justin Britton, Jared Hutar, Cheyenne Lemm and Nick Koenig. The team manager is teacher Lori Webster.
The three teams advancing to the state competition May 20 at St. John’s University included Cook County, Two Harbors and Isle. Another of the Isle teams earned the Team Spirit Award.
Also participating were teams from Duluth East, Babbitt, Moose Lake, Mountain Iron-Buhl, Hinckley-Finlayson and Cook County-Grand Marais.
The Envirothons are organized by staff from the area Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The Minnesota State Envirothon is sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Minnesota Association of Conservation District Employees. Carlier said the event also depends greatly on private, business and corporate donations, adding that in recent years those donations have diminished somewhat due to the slow economy. She urged any company or organization who is interested in developing “future citizens who can make informed decisions that affect the quality of life in our communities” to consider supporting next year’s Envirothon event.
For more information, contact Minnesota Envirothon coordinators at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.