Warm spring weather arrived just in time for fifteen high school teams to compete at the 2014 Iowa Envirothon State Competition at Springbrook State Park near Guthrie Center on Monday. This year’s state winner was Marshalltown Whales 1. They will be sent to the 2014 Stewardship Challenge at Loyola University Chicago, Sunday August 3rd through Thursday, August 7th with 9 other teams from the Midwest. The Iowa Soybean Association is a sponsor of the annual competition.
Envirothon is a team competition for high school students testing their knowledge of natural resources. In the field and classroom, teams of five students are challenged to use their knowledge and critical thinking skills to conduct hands-on investigations, solve real-life scenarios and answer written questions covering five categories: Aquatics, Forestry, Wildlife, Soils, and Current Environmental Issues.
“Education has gone more and more to computer based so this really engages them back in the natural world,” Claire Lindahl, the executive director of the Envirothon said. “I’m always impressed with the oral presentations. I can see how excited the kids are to participate and compete in the Envirothon.”
DJ Kohl, a junior, competed alongside other classmates on the Alburnett FFA 1 team. The second year participant sat at a picnic table with his other teammates while trying to measure PH levels and other characteristics of water drawn from a nearby lake at Springbrook State Park.
“We do this through the FFA so it helps me stay involved. I’ve learned a lot through this and it helps me to get in touch with nature,” he said. “My favorite station is wildlife.”
Melody Bro, a watershed project coordinator for Tama Soil and Water Conservation District administered the aquatics test for this year’s Envirothon.
“There’s a lot to be said for the advisors that put a team together and prepare them for a day like this,” Bro said. “For many of these kids special events like this are their only exposure to the outdoors so I think this is a wonderful opportunity for all of our high schoolers to learn about these topics.”
The 2014 Iowa Envirothon runner up was Riceville FFA 1. The following teams were this year’s first place category winners: Marshalltown Whales 2 in Soils, Iowa City Benthos in Aquatics, Waverly- Shell Rock FFA in Wildlife, Glenwood 2 in Forestry, and Marshalltown Whales 1 in the Oral Presentation. The top FFA Score for the 2014 Iowa Envirothon competition was Riceville FFA 1. The Muscatine FFA 1 was runner up and Alburnett FFA 1 was the second runner up.
Story and photos by Joseph L. Murphy, ISA member communications manager