Congratulations to the 2013 Hidden Pond Nature Center Envirothon Team!

Northern Virginia Envirothon team takes first place in Virginia; 15th out of 57 in North America

The Hidden Pond Nature Center Envirothon team membersThe Hidden Pond Nature Center Envirothon team studied and trained all year, testing themselves on their knowledge in soils, aquatic ecology, forestry and wildlife and preparing a presentation on this year's special topic, rangeland management. They swept the local Fairfax County competition in March, the Area II regionals in April and took first place in Virginia in May. In August, the team flew to Bozeman, Montana for the North American Envirothon Competition. They represented Fairfax County and the State of Virginia in top form by placing 15th out of 57 teams, and came in first place on the rangeland special topic test.

The team's members were Matt Baker (Rising Junior, Woodson HS), Owen Mulvey-McFerron (2013 WT Woodson HS graduate), Murjan Hammad (2013 Home school graduate), Liam Berigan (2013 Robinson HS graduate) and Peter MacDonald (Rising Junior, West Springfield HS). The team was coached by Mike McCaffrey (Hidden Pond Manager) and Shannon Morley (Naturalist, Frying Pan Park). The team's alternates were Monica Banghart and Sydney Spicer (Rising Juniors, West Springfield HS).

The National Competition included only 1st Place winners from 57 States and Provinces in the US and Canada. In addition to earning first place at the Virginia State Envirothon this past May, the 2011 and 2012 Hidden Pond Team won second place at the Virginia State Competition two years in a row.

Envirothon is instrumental in educating and attracting the next generation of natural resource professionals. Liam will study Environmental Science at Cornell, Murjan will major in Wildlife Sciences and Forestry at Virginia Tech and Owen's focus will be Marine Biology (Fisheries Mgmt) and Environmental Science at Richard Stockton College of NJ.

Envirothon is North America’s largest high school Environmental Education Competition. Each year more than 500,000 teenagers (9th-12th grade) are positively influenced by their involvement in Envirothon. The team would like to acknowledge Dan Schwartz, NoVA Soil Scientist, who started the team off on the right foot with their first (of many) in-the-dirt training sessions in 2011, as well as many others.

The Virginia Envirothon is a natural resources competition for high school students. Students who participate learn about stewardship and management concepts and work to solve real and hypothetical environmental problems. The program is field-oriented and gives students an opportunity to work with natural resource professionals.

Aquatics stationTeams compete at the local and regional level in the early spring to win a spot in the Virginia Envirothon. The top three teams from the region are eligible for a two-day state competition held in May. The winner of the state competition goes to the North American Envirothon in late July. The location for the North American competition varies from year to year.

Teams are made up of five students in 9th through 12th grades. Throughout the school year students prepare for competition with a coach, usually a teacher or natural resource professional in the community. Students are tested on their knowledge of soils/land use, forestry, wildlife, aquatic ecology and a current environmental topic that changes every year.

Students visit five "in-the-field" test stations where written and hands-on problem solving is required. They also make an oral presentation formulating a strategy for addressing a specific problem related to the current environmental topic. The test stations are each worth 100 points. The presentation is worth 200 points. The team scoring closest to 700 points is the winner.

Examples of current environmental topics chosen for the Envirothon include:

  • Rangeland Management (2013)
  • Low Impact Development and Non-Point Source Pollution (2012)
  • Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (2011)
  • Introduced Species and Their Effect on Biodiversity
  • Agricultural Land Conservation and Preservation
  • Natural Resource Management in the Urban Environment
  • Managing Cultural Landscapes
  • Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate

Envirothon team members The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, a nonprofit association, coordinates the state program. Virginia's 47 soil and water conservation districts sponsor local programs.

To learn more about forming an Envirothon team in Fairfax County, email NVSWCD or call 703-324-1460, TTY 711.

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