High and middle school students from across North Carolina converged on Cedar Rock Park in Alamance this spring for the state’s annual Envirothon competition.
Millie Langley, an Envirothon coordinator and soil conservationist with the Guilford Soil & Water Conservation District, said the state event started in 1991 with just five teams. Over the years, the program’s growing popularity led organizers to develop its current format: regional competitions for high and middle school divisions, with the top seven teams for each division and in each of eight regions moving on to the state competition. More than 100 teams – and close to 600 people – participated in this spring’s two-day event.
For students and educators, the event offers a hands-on application of academic lessons in the field. “We’ve noticed how a lot of these students who do well and are exposed to this sort of thing go on to do better in school,” Langley said. “They achieve something in this area in their careers.”
Organizers rely on working professionals to volunteer as judges, who serve on panels to evaluate students’ analyses and problem-solving.
Alexis Hamberg volunteered at the event as a judge of high school students’ oral presentations. Hamberg, who earned a bioenvironmental sciences degree, has worked as a biologist for a construction and engineering firm and is currently an associate environmental specialist on the MVP Southgate project, an interstate natural gas transmission pipeline proposed to serve North Carolina.
“The students in the competition worked really hard and showed a real passion for understanding challenges and finding solutions,” she said. “It’s a great program.”
High school students in this year’s event had to develop a plan for creating a year-round habitat friendly to bees in order to increase the bees’ survival rate and improve a farmer’s crop yields.
Students from the High Rock Home School of Davidson County’s High Rock FFA Beez-Kneez Team garnered top high school honors. The Wilson County 4-H Environmental Science Club’s OpAwesome Team won first place in the middle school division.
For more information about NC Envirothon, visit the program’s website.