Area high school students had the opportunity to test their knowledge of natural resources at the Central Region Nebraska Envirothon competition held Tuesday morning at Central Community College-Columbus.
Hosted by the Lower Loup and Central Platte Natural Resource Districts, the event tested students in the fields of soils, water, forestry, politics, range and wildlife.
“What children do is show their competence in each area. And then the team with the highest score from the seven competitions will be able to enter the state competition and represent the central region for that, ”said Larry Schultz, information and education coordinator of the Lower Loup NRD .
Envirothon is a national event for which competitions are held in nearly every state in the country, as well as in China and Canada, Schultz said. Nationals were held virtually in Nebraska last year. Nebraska’s natural resource districts sponsor the state competitions.
Fourteen teams from seven schools participated in Tuesday’s event, including Humphrey. Up to five students could be part of the same team. The winners of Tuesday’s contest will compete in the state contest, while the winner of the state contest will represent Nebraska at the National Envirothon.
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Arriving at Tuesday’s event, the teams conducted tests in each natural resources topic. The goal is for students to demonstrate their knowledge, Schultz said.
“When they see the political questions, we will have a series of maps that they will look at that will identify the different areas of the state that might be under groundwater control, something like that. The forestry section has different photographs, they have to identify an instrument, they have to identify what type of tree might be involved with the cone or the needles or something,” Schultz said.
One of the tests was soil-based and included bins containing different types of soil. The students had to identify the different types of soil based on their attributes.
“The state pageant will actually have a dug pit, so the kids can come in…and see the soil profiles and all that kind of stuff,” Schultz added.
Humphrey’s team consisted of Jeff Spier, Addison Schneider, Jason Sjuts, Mollie Groteluschen and Abilyn Schneider. Overall, the children thought they had probably done well, said Robyn Graham, Humphrey AG teacher and FFA counselor.
“We don’t know how we scored because they have extra points and then they will send it. But they felt like they did well,” Graham said. “There are areas that are more difficult, as we don’t know much about the range. We know the basics, but not a whole lot.
Humphrey typically sends a team or two to Envirothon each year, she added. Students prepare for competitions by taking a course on natural resources and studying competition topics.
“It’s a good test of how well they know what they know,” Graham said, noting that when there’s an answer kids don’t know, they seek it out so that learning takes place, whatever. whatever their quality.
Some students like Envirothon because it’s teamwork, she added.
“For some of them who don’t like individual testing, now is a great time to work with your friends and for you to use all of your expertise,” Graham said. “They tend to do better because they can work together on this test.
“We appreciate that the NRD is willing to invest in young people and give them this opportunity and hopefully encourage them to consider careers in natural resources and learn about natural resources.”
Schultz said Envirothon allows students to examine the global extent of natural resources.
“It gives them the chance to take in all the concepts and better understand the natural world around them,” Schultz said. “When they get to the state level, we actually provide them with a real-world problem (such as) housing development has arisen outside of a city and they run into this problem and this problem – maybe (a) endangered species or poor soil type or something. Then the kids have to give a presentation on what they could propose to a local zoning board or local town council.”
More often than not, Envirothon team members are involved in the FFA, such as Humphrey. But, as Schultz noted, there has been a trend of urban schools bringing in their science students.
“Especially in the Lincoln and Omaha areas, it’s more science teachers who bring them in,” added Marcia Lee of Central Platte NRD.
Loup City was a school present on Tuesday that had teams made up of science students. Teresa Walters, a science teacher at Loup City, said she had a large group competing this year – four teams made up of 20 students in total.
“I just open it up to whoever I have in class and say, ‘Who wants to do this? If they want to come, they volunteer and then we form teams,” Walters said. “I have an environmental science class and that one, we study a little bit in that class and revise and things along those lines.”
Other schools in attendance Tuesday included Aurora, Brainard, Ord, St. Paul and Waverly.
Hannah Schrodt is the editor of the Columbus Telegram. Contact her by email at [email protected]