James River Envirothon Team

By Jake Mabe

James River’s 2019 Envirothon Team, an annual event designed to test and enhance students’ knowledge of the environment natural resources, is currently being sponsored and organized by our own Mrs. Stull.

The Envirothon has its roots in a small program from Pennsylvania, initially referred to as the “Environmental Olympics,” beginning in 1979. After expanding to include the states of Massachusetts and and Ohio in 1988, Canadian high schools were integrated in 1992, and currently 45 states in America and nine Canadian provinces take part every year, with a total engagement of more than 500,000 students across the North American continent. Participation will only increase as bids to join the coalition of the Envirothon have been received from countries like Australia and Japan.

The topics of discussion and focus in the Environthon’s interactive testing vary from year to year, but four of the mandatory five subcategories are occupied by the following focal points in the environment: aquatic ecology, forestry, soils and land use, and wildlife. The fifth category is reserved for a specific issue relevant in the respective year; the current 2019 competition will focus on the role of agricultural technology and its abilities to assist in the feeding of our population. Different activities pertaining to each category are organized to demonstrate a well-rounded knowledge of the environment; for example, an analysis of the aquatic ecology variety could consist of taking chemical samples of water to determine its quality or acidity.

The Envirothon combines traditional written tests with hands-on examinations of a student’s or group’s ability to analyze and assess conditions or problems in the environment; other formats of testing include presentations, available for the first time this year to be completed via PowerPoint presentations as opposed to pencil-and-paper work. Scoring is based on five different written tests, each scored on a hundred-point scale, and the two-hundred-point presentation. At the end of testing, different states and provinces are represented by the single team (typically sponsored by a high school, although the home-schooled are allowed to partake in the activities as well) with the highest composite score at the international NFC-Envirothon competition, which is hosted by a different state each year (North Carolina for 2019).