In early August 2013, five Yukon high school students travelled to the 26th annual week-long North American Envirothon in Bozeman, Montana. We returned with newfound knowledge of environmental sustainability, agriculture, presentation skills and also new friends.
The NA Envirothon is the largest environmental competition for high school students. This year, (the third year a Yukon team has participated), our team was comprised of Sruthee Govindaraj, Liam Finnegan, Rene Grewal, Kaitlynn Mitchell and myself, (Clara Reid).
We had previously participated in the Yukon Envirothon (for Grade 11 biology students), representing Vanier and Wood Street (Experiential Science Program).
Our terrific chaperones, Kelly Choy and Mary Lumbers, were both perfect for this trip, having backgrounds in science and high school education.
We would like to thank all our dedicated sponsors who made the trip possible: Yukon Department of Education, Yukon Department of Environment, Whitehorse Subaru, EDI (Environmental Dynamics Inc.), EBA Engineering, CAP Engineering, Challenger Geomatics, Northern Climate Engineering, SDC (Software Development Centre) and Kim Solonik.
We agree that we gave the companies very short notice when inquiring for sponsorship, so we are surprised and very grateful that most ended up sponsoring.
In addition to the NA Envirothon website, we were extremely lucky to have Bob Sharp prepare us for the event with some hands-on experience in each of our disciplines (soil, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife and human impact). The numerous hours he donated to training, finding chaperones, fundraising, making contacts and scheduling meetings was a huge help. We wouldn’t have been able to go without him.
The Envirothon was very competitive and intense (as there are scholarships for the winning teams) but it was also a lot of fun. All the teams were boarded at the Montana State University campus, and every day we were scheduled from 6:30 a.m. to10 p.m., so it was extremely busy.
During the day, chaperones participated in excursions, such as rafting, zip-lining and horseback riding, while the students had other things to do….
The first two days were for training and testing, which happened in nearby Paradise Valley. The heat was exhausting for us; we had to drink a ton of water, and at lunch we sat under the trees, even though we were sitting on cow patties. On the fourth day, each team had to make a presentation outlining a solution to a local environmental issue. These were presented to judges the following day.
Amidst the intensity of the week, all of the teams visited the Museum of the Rockies, a rodeo and the iconic Yellowstone Park. It was the first time any of us had seen a geyser erupt, so seeing Old Faithful, as well as the other features (like the super colourful hot springs), was very exciting. The rodeo (which included bull riding, roping and barrel racing) was a great eye-opener to Montana’s ranching culture.
The experience of the NA Envirothon was definitely worth the effort. The competition definitely contributed to all of our futures, and meeting the other participants was a blast.