Envirothon challenges students

Trail tests, oral presentations highlight event

Kim Fundingsland/MDN This team of students from Kenmare High School participated in the 18th Annual Mouse River Loop Envirothon at Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge Wednesday.

UPPER SOURIS NWR – They stopped, looked and listened. Then they conferred among themselves to arrive at a conclusion.

Seventeen five-persons team of students from nine different high school participated in the 18th Annual Mouse River Loop Envirothon held here Wednesday. A morning chill in the air didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the competitors who were eager to test their knowledge against fellow students.

The theme for the Envirothon, “Agriculture and the Environment: Knowledge and Technology to Feed The World,” was determined by the national organization. Fittingly, the 18 challenging stations visited by each of the teams were set up on the Ernest Albers farm approximately three miles east of refuge headquarters.

The event was a regional competition with the top three teams advancing to the state Envirothon. The winning team at state, which will be held at Crystal Springs, moves on to the national finals.

“They learn an awful lot and it’s a fun learning day,” said Dara Abernathy, Renville County Soil Conservation District and one of the organizers of the event. “They learn about soil, water, animals, plants, air and natural resources that are so important. Students have come out of this and made careers out of what they have learned. It’s a great all-around experience and a fun-filled day for them.”

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Bird calls was one of 18 stations included in Wednesday’s Envirothon at Upper Souris NWR.

Teams were made up of interested students, freshmen through seniors. Teachers helped determine the participants. Many students eagerly volunteered to take part in the experience.

“It’s tremendous exposure for the kids to the environment, conservation issues and farming practices,” said Silkee Hill, Renville County Soil Conservation District. “The idea is to put what they have learned in the classroom to practical use.”

“It’s a team. They learn to work together,” emphasized Abernathy. “They have to discuss together what the right answers are and then prepare an oral presentation. The teamwork is very important.”

Oral presentations were held during the early afternoon in front of six judges who were tasked with determining winning teams. John Nowatski, North Dakota State University Agriculture Machine Systems Specialist, was the guest speaker for the event.