What do our South Carolina high school students know about Western Rangeland Management? Those who participated in the 22nd Annual Envirothon Competition know a lot, and they proved it to panels of biologists, foresters and science teachers at the state competition held recently at the Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia.
A team representing Spartanburg High School (Team A) won the 2018 South Carolina Envirothon competition held at the Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia in May. The group of students will now go on to represent South Carolina in July at the National Conservation Foundation’s Envirothon in Pocatello, Idaho.
South Carolina’s Envirothon competition hosted 18 high school teams from around the state, testing the students’ knowledge of core environmental subjects such as Aquatics, Forestry, Soils and Wildlife. The Envirothon challenge includes an oral presentation on a current environmental science topic. This year the topic was “Western Rangeland Management: Balancing Diverse Views.” Presenting arguments to back up their stance on what to do with 1,800 acres of bequeathed property to the state, students took natural, social, political and economic issues into consideration and defended their positions.
Leading up to the competition, all 18 teams studied and preparing for hands-on site exams at the competition. Three teams were awarded scholarships for their levels of expertise. Receiving $1,000 in scholarships each was the First Place Team of Spartanburg High School Team A. Following at a close second was Spartanburg Day School receiving $500 each, and Spartanburg High School’s Team B placed third overall with a $250 scholarship for each team member. New teams, most improved teams, and teams that scored the highest at each test station were also recognized.
Spartanburg’s Team A will now begin preparations for the National Conservation Foundation’s Envirothon, North America’s largest high school environmental education competition, which will be held in Pocatello, Idaho, in July. The first-place teams from each participating state and Canadian province will gather to be tested in a similar, but more rigorous competition, with even higher stakes for scholarship awards.
Spartanburg High School Team A representative Louise Franke reflects on the wonderful memories she has made as a participant of this event through the years. “Envirothon has been one of my very favorite experiences of high school, because not only did it gave me the chance to study the world around me in ways I had never imagined, it also gave me some of my best friends. I’m really grateful to S.C. Envirothon, NCF Envirothon, and my two AMAZING coaches for an absolutely wonderful three years!”
“After four years of doing Envirothon, it’s hard to believe my time as a competitor has come to an end,” says Hannah Jordan, another Spartanburg High team member. “The lessons I’ve learned have not only helped shape my outlook on the world, but my life as well. It helped me realize my passion for the natural environment. In doing so, I have now decided to pursue a career in the environment and natural resources at Clemson University. I’m forever thankful.”
The S.C. Envirothon is coordinated by the SCDNR in cooperation with the S.C. Forestry Commission, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Central Carolina Technical College, Francis Marion University, Florence County Environmental Discovery Center, S.C. Soil and Water Society and Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center. Major financial sponsors are the S.C. Conservation Districts Foundation, Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund and the S.C. Association of Conservation Districts. If you would like to form a team at your high school or become a sponsor, visit www.dnr.sc.gov/education/Envirothon or www.facebook/SCEnvirothon or call the SCDNR Envirothon Coordinator at (803) 734-6367.
The 2018 National Envirothon has come to a close, and the results are in!
Spartanburg High School Envirothon coach Rob Wilder contacted South Carolina Wildlife magazine following the event to report that the team came in fifth! “We had a great competition and ended up placing fifth overall, which is the second highest we have ever finished. We placed third in 2011. I have been doing Envirothon since 1999 and consider fifth right up there with that third place finish. It is such a tough competition.”