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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

Alberta Envirothon 2023

Two of the competing teams in the 2023 Alberta Envirothon held at Lakeland College. Photo Lorna Hamilton

The Alberta Envirothon, an annual competition for high school students, was held at Lakeland College Vermilion Campus from May 3 – 5. The competition was a three-day event that began with welcoming the competitors and orientation on day one. Day two consisted of a learning day and oral presentations, while day three was the testing and awards day. The competition focuses on testing students’ knowledge of environmental science and natural resource management in Alberta, with the theme for this year’s competition being Adapting to Climate Change: How Planning Can Help.

The competition consists of five components, namely, Aquatic Ecology, Forestry, Soils and Land Use, Wildlife, and Current Issues, each of which is worth an equivalent value towards the final score. Testing is worth 50 per cent of the final score, with each test carrying an equal weight. The oral presentation component scores the teams based on a scenario provided relating to the current issue, and it is worth 50 per cent of the final score. Final team placements are determined by adding the test scores and the final oral presentation score. The top three team scores are awarded cash prizes and trophies.

The purpose of the Alberta Envirothon is to develop knowledgeable, skilled, and dedicated citizens who can solve complex environmental issues, act as stewards of the environment, and have a desire to learn more about the environment and natural resource management. The competition is open to high school students from grades 9-12 and those planning for careers in science and resource management.

Established in 1997, Alberta’s Envirothon has up to 15 teams that have competed in the past, representing schools and clubs from all over Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories. Participants have come from large urban centers, remote or rural areas, and First Nations. Teams of five are led by a teacher advisor or volunteer and meet throughout the school year to train. The winning team earns the opportunity to represent Alberta in the NCF-Envirothon (international competition) with teams from across Canada, the USA, and China.

The Envirothon is North America’s largest high school environmental education competition. More than 10 million people have participated from across North America, with 50,000 students from 4,000 high schools competing annually. The program began in 1979 as the “Environmental Olympics” in Pennsylvania to encourage high school students to become interested in natural resource conservation and environmental issues and careers. The Environmental Olympics quickly gained popularity and evolved into the Envirothon. In 1988, the program became known as the Envirothon, and teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Massachusetts competed in the first “National Envirothon.” The program grew rapidly, and in 1992, the first Canadian team (from Nova Scotia) participated in the competition, hosted by Maryland’s Envirothon Committee.

The Envirothon is a successful partnership with conservation district associations and cooperating state, provincial, and federal natural resource agencies. The program provides hands-on environmental and natural resource management education to high school students and empowers young people with the competencies and motivation vital to achieving and maintaining a natural balance between the quality of life and the quality of the environment.

The Alberta Envirothon is an excellent opportunity for high school students to develop critical thinking skills to create inventive solutions to the complex local and global environmental and natural resource issues facing our world today. With the Envirothon, students are empowered to educate others, take action in their local communities, pursue higher academic study in environmental disciplines, and work toward careers in the environment, natural resources, and conservation.

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