Exploring the Envirothon Connecting students to the environment

Story and photos by Joseph L. Murphy, ISA member communications manager

Okay, here’s a test for you. What is Limnology? What is the state criterion for dissolved oxygen in Iowa’s warm water streams? What is thermocline? What is the Parent Material for Sharpsburg soils?

Are you stumped?

A group of high school students from across Iowa correctly answered those questions and many others from aquatic, current issues, forestry, soils and wildlife categories during the 2016 Envirothon held at Spring Brook State Park near Guthrie Center.

The Envirothon, sponsored in part by the Iowa Soybean Association, is a team competition for high school students. It challenges the students in their critical thinking skills by working as a team to conduct hands-on investigations and answer written questions concerning environmental issues in five categories.

This year fifteen high school teams competed at the 20th Annual Iowa Envirothon State Competition.

“The excitement of the Iowa Envirothon is contagious. Once you become part of it, you can’t get enough,” says Clare Lindahl, the executive director of Conservation Districts of Iowa.

She went on to say that in 1996 when the Iowa Envirothon started there were 65 students in the competition. This year the Envirothon celebrated 20 years and had 225 students participate.

“It feels like every year someone new is interested in getting involved because they have heard how great the event is,” Lindahl says. “We hardly have enough spots for new volunteers.”

For students the opportunity to get out of the classroom and visit Spring Brook State Park is hard to pass up. Throw in an opportunity to compete against other schools for bragging rights and you have a winning proposition called the Envirothon.

“The Iowa Envirothon provides a great opportunity for students to team up with their friends to come up with solutions to environmental concerns,” Lindahl says. “They get an opportunity to be surrounded by individuals in the conservation and agriculture community who want them to succeed and may just be interviewing them some day.”

This year’s state winner was the Decorah Ospreys. They will be sent to the National Conservation Foundation - Envirothon Competition July 24 – 29, 2016 at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

The 2016 Iowa Envirothon Runner-Up was Muscatine FFA Red,

Created By
Joseph L. Murphy
Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

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