Envirothon at HWS – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Envirothon at HWS

Hobart and William Smith Colleges will host the 2012 New York State Envirothon – a two-day environmental education competition for high school students from across New York State on Wednesday, May 24 and Thursday, May 25.

At the event, high school teams from 51 counties across the state will participate. Each participating county sends one high school team, containing up to five students per team. Among the local high schools competing in this year’s event are Geneva (Ontario County) and Red Creek (Wayne County). The competition tests the knowledge of the participants, while encouraging them to pursue greater understanding of the environment.

“The size of Hobart and William Smith Colleges was a plus for us in making our decision on where to hold the event,” says Blanche Hurlbutt, vice chair of New York State Envirothon.  “The Finger Lakes landscape is great because it fits the needs of the test writers. The writers use various trees and soil while creating the tests, and being in an area like the Finger Lakes certainly helps them.”

The competition tests students’ knowledge in five content areas:  soil/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and a current environmental issue.  On the first day of the event, each team will give a presentation on a current environmental issue, accounting for one-sixth of the team’s score. This year’s oral presentation problem is based on “Non-Point Source Low-Impact Development.”

On the second day, various sites will be set up outdoors around campus, hosting each of the categories. Students will compete at each station for 30 minutes via timed tests to gauge their level of understanding for that particular category. An expert in the specific subdivision is on site at each station to reinforce the material following the tests.

The competition begins at a local or regional level. From there, the qualifying teams advance to the NYS Environthon. The team that wins the regional event moves on to the Canon Envirothon Competition, the largest North American environmental competition with teams from the U.S. and Cananda. Last year New York State, represented by Academy at Fox Hill (Orange County), finished 18th overall in the Canon Envirothon event.

The competition provides a tremendous opportunity for high school students to familiarize themselves with the environmental studies department at HWS.

“We try to select a college that offers environmental courses because we try to encourage students to advance into the environmental field,” says Hurlbutt.