This spring, more than 200 high school students from across the state participated in the New York State Envirothon, hosted by Hobart and William Smith Colleges. During the two-day event, teams consisting of five students competed with each other using written and oral tests and hands-on activities, with the winner—The Mount Academy in Esopus, N.Y. — advancing to the North American Envirothon.
An initiative of the National Conservation Foundation, Envirothon began in 1979, and now draws high school teams from across the U.S. and Canada, ranging from Oxford High School in Mississippi to Elwood High School in Newfoundland. They were tested in five areas: aquatic ecology, forestry, soils and land use, wildlife and a current topic, which this year was western rangeland management: balancing diverse views.
Teams were given tests to complete at five stations, each representing one of the five testing areas. They had 30 minutes to complete each test. They were also required to give seven to 10-minute oral presentations based on the current topic, which was determined by the national Envirothon organization.
As an educational tool, Envirothon supplements environmental education both inside and outside the classroom. Led by a volunteer adviser, the teams met from late autumn until spring. They worked collaboratively to develop their knowledge of ecology and natural resource management and to practice their environmental problem-solving skills in preparation for the competition.
New York State’s winning teams consistently place in the top 10 at the North American Envirothon. The New York State team took home the gold medal in 2013, and placed second last year.
The Hobart and William Smith campus was an ideal venue for the Envirothon according to event chair Blanche L. Hurlbutt. “Hobart and William Smith was our host campus for the past five years, and it is our hope to continue to work with and host the event at the Colleges in the future,” she says.