What is Envirothon?
Envirothon is a natural resources competition for high school students. Students who participate learn stewardship and management concepts and work to solve real world environmental problems. The program is field-oriented, community-based, and gives students an opportunity to work with natural resource professionals. In Virginia, the program is sponsored by Dominion Energy.
Envirothon was started in 1979 by three Pennsylvania soil and water conservation districts. By 1988, the idea had caught on and the first national contest was held. Virginia’s program started in 1995 with 12 teams participating at the state level. By 1997 more than 100 teams participated statewide. In 2006, the Virginia team placed 1st overall at the national competition and in 9 of the past 12 competitions, the Virginia team has placed in the top 10 nationally.
Who makes up a team and what do they do?
Teams are made up of five students with one or two alternates. Throughout the school year, students prepare to compete at the local level. Qualifying teams then compete at the area level, and the top three teams from each area in the state compete to be the state winner. These teams of high school students are tested on their knowledge of natural resources in five subject areas: soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatics, and a current environmental issue which changes from year to year. During competitions, students visit five "in-the-field" test stations where written and hands-on problem solving is required. In addition, students complete an oral presentation formulating a strategy for addressing an environmental issues. The event is competitive, but education is the bottom line.
Participants gain a deeper knowledge of the following:
- The effect individual actions have on environmental problems
- The interactions and inter-dependencies of our environment
- Current environmental issues
- The agencies available to assist them in resource protection concerns
- The need to become environmentally aware, action-oriented adults
Participation in Envirothon encourages life skills like team-building, critical thinking, decision making, problem solving, and communications skills.
The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, a non-profit association, coordinates the state program. Virginia’s 47 local soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) sponsor local programs. Winners at the local level advance to area and state competitions. The state winner represents Virginia in the International Envirothon. More information about Envirothon can be found on the VASWCD’s Dominion Envirothon website.