As a graduate student in the NC State Department of Soil Science, and a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Society at NCSU I have had the pleasure of interacting with local Envirothon teams each spring. In a nutshell, Envirothon is a series of academic competitions at the local, state, and international level that focus on environmental science and ecology. The Canon Envirothon (international level competition) website does a great job at describing what it’s all about:

Canon Envirothon is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established to coordinate the delivery of an environmental education program for high school students throughout North America.  Canon Envirothon is headquartered in League City, Texas.

The environmental education program consists of the annual Canon Envirothon Competition in which winning teams from participating states and Canadian provinces compete for recognition and scholarships by demonstrating their knowledge of environmental science and natural resource management. The competition is centered on four universal testing categories — soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, and wildlife. They are also tested on a current environmental issue.

The Envirothon program is an effective educational tool, capable of supplementing environmental education both inside and outside the classroom. Led by a volunteer advisor, teams usually meet from late autumn until spring. Teams work collaboratively to develop their knowledge of ecology and natural resource management and to practice their environmental problem-solving skills in preparation for Envirothon competitions.

My interaction in the past has been teaching local teams about soils and land use. They have their local competitions in March, so usually in February myself and other students in the Dept. of Soil Science and members of the SWCS chapter do a one-day workshop (i.e. crash course) on soils and land use. This has been really fun in the past, and the students are truly interested in soils. Many of them ask better, more-informed questions than many of the undergraduates that I’ve taught in laboratory classes at NC State!

Colby teaching Envirothon students about the factors of soil formation

We will be doing another Saturday course in soils and land use this year. I’m looking forward to it. In addition, myself and a few other SWCS members will be writing the test for the local contest. That should be an interesting side of Envirothon to see.

Anyway, I just wanted to call attention to the Envirothon program. If you would like to find the Envirothon program in your state you can look here. They are always looking for more volunteers, donors, and competitors!

Good luck to all of the Envirothon teams this March in your local competitions!

Before you go, here is a link to pictures we took at last year’s soils and land use training.

Envirothon competitors learning how to use a soil survey
Fellow grad student Stephen Holland (green jacket) teaching Envirothon students how to describe a soil profile in a soil pit

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