Local students shine in environmental science competition

Published 3:18 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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Fifteen Beaufort County teams consisting of high school and middle school students, recently participated with more than 400 middle and high school students in the NC Coastal Envirothon competition at Weyerhaeuser’s Cool Springs Environmental Center near New Bern. Of those, eight qualified to advance to the State Envirothon competition that will be held on April 26-27 at Cedarock Park in Burlington, NC.

“I have been the Education Coordinator for Beaufort Soil and Water Conservation District for almost nine years, and this is the first time since I’ve been here that we have had fifteen teams to compete, and eight qualifying for the state competition” said Debbie Boyd. “Some students participating in the Envirothon competition start on a team in middle school and continue competing on teams throughout their high school years. It really helps to have a good feeder program between middle school and high school.  When you have a good program that students and advisors are committed to, you will usually produce good results.”

Qualifying to attend the State Envirothon were student members from the Sparkplugs, Yung Roots, and Nerd Herd teams from Northside High School, the Fearsome Fivesome team from Beaufort Early College High School, the FFA Tulip Tippers team from Terra Ceia Christian, and the Trash Pandas, Backwood Mallards, and Golden Girls teams from Northeast Elementary.

The Trash Pandas won first place overall for middle school teams and will receive an expense paid trip to the event from the NC Coastal Envirothon. The Sparkplugs finished third overall for high school teams.

We were screaming and all ecstatic when we heard we had finished first,” said Trash Pandas team member Kinsleigh Sawyer. “I tell all of my friends to get involved, because it really boosts your knowledge about the world around you and makes you care about our planet even more. It is really nice to learn about nature and to be around other people who care about the same things as you.”

For Sparkplugs team member, Emerson Asby, who has been competing throughout middle school and now high school, the experience never gets old. “I love to learn about the world that we live in and spending time and having fun with my friends who feel the same way. It is important to learn about what is going on under your feet, above you, and all around you, so you can have a better perspective and understanding of the world.”

Envirothon is the most widely recognized hands-on environmental education program in the nation. Middle and high school students immerse themselves in a year‐long learning process that combines in‐class curriculum with hands-on field experiences facilitated by resource professionals such as soil scientists, foresters, and wildlife specialists. This intense training culminates in a competition where teams test their management knowledge and problem-solving skills in five subject areas: Soils/Land Use, Aquatic Ecology, Forestry, Wildlife, and a current environmental issue. Scores determine winning placements.

“Where we live, students will always be exposed to the five areas of study for the Envirothon competitions,” said Boyd. “By studying and participating in events like this we are exposing students to areas of study that may lead them to possibly pursue a career in one of these areas. It also gives them an awareness of how important our natural resources are for sustainability.”