Congratulations to the Hidden Pond Team – 2015 Dominion Envirothon State Champions, 9th in North America!

Northern Virginia Envirothon team takes first place in Virginia, competes internationally

2015 Hidden Pond Envirothon TeamVirginia’s 1st place Envirothon team from Hidden Pond Nature Center in Fairfax, VA traveled to Springfield, Missouri July 27 - August 2 to represent Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Districts at the North American Envirothon, North America’s largest environmental education competition. The event culminates months of studying and preparation by the five team members, alternates and their coaches. After days worth of test taking and oral presentation preparation, the team received 9th place overall out of 52 teams from throughout the United States and Canada.

The Hidden Pond Nature Center Envirothon team trained all year, testing themselves on their knowledge of soils, aquatic ecology, forestry and wildlife and preparing a presentation on this year's special topic, community and urban forestry. They earned first place at the local Fairfax County competition in March, the Area II regional competition in April, and the state competition at Longwood University on May 17-18th, beating out 17 other Virginia top regional teams in the process.

The team's members are Matt Baker, Monica Banghart, Michael Buontempo, Stuart Murdoch and Sydney Spicer. The team was coached by Mike McCaffrey and Kyle Hughes-Segroves from Hidden Pond Nature Center.

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 2015 Hidden Pond team is highest placing team in Fairfax County history and only the second team ever to advance to the National Conservation Foundation’s Envirothon Competition.

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:

  • Community and Urban Forestry (2015)
  • (2014)
  • 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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