Each year Trinity County high school students participate in the Envirothon, a state-wide competition that tests their knowledge and understanding of environmental issues. Students from all over the state are sponsored by local resource conservation districts, who send teams of five students to compete against students from other conservation districts.
The state competition is held each Spring, and students begin preparing for the contest months before by attending after-school workshops on natural resource issues such as aquatics, soils, wildlife, land use, and waste management. Also, each yearly competition has a "theme", a special focus for the year’s competition. For instance, the theme for the 1996-97 school year is pesticides. Students explore the impact of pesticides in each of the areas, such as soils, mentioned above.
The student teams are based at high school sites, and have a participating teacher who acts as a mentor to the students. In addition, resource specialists from the county share their expertise on special topics with the students.
At the competition teams of students are tested at various hands-on stations, which present a resource issue or problem and test their knowledge. The competition culminates in a final project, which asks students to interpret and solve an environmental problem and present their solutions to their peers from around the state. The final presentation challenges their ability to organize and present information orally, or even dramatically and artistically, to a large audience.
The 1996 Trinity County Envirothon team from Hayfork High School competed for the first time at the state competition, placing 18th in a field of 33 state teams. Typically, winning teams at the state level participate for several years before winning, with freshmen and sophomores carrying skills and experiences on into their junior and senior years, refining their competitive skills each year they compete.
The winners of the state competition move on to the National Envirothon contest, where they compete against student teams from 48 of the 50 states Each year more states join the Envirothon and it is hoped that by 1999, when California hosts the national Envirothon in Humbolt County, all 50 state plus Guam and Puerto Rico will participate.
Winning the Envirothon is an admirable goal for students, but Envirothon organizers and advisers stress the way in which the Envirothon promotes environmental literacy to all students, regardless of whether they win or lose in the competition. No matter what the outcome, natural resources and the environment gain by having environmentally literate and sensitive students who can share their knowledge and values with other students and adults.
For more information, contact our Education Specialist.