By Amanda Bertsch
What do eating bad lasagna, playing with soil, and hiking with rattlesnakes have in common? This Friday and Saturday, 60 Arizona high school students found out.
Envirothon is a North American (US and Canada) ecology competition. Students in teams of five complete written and practical tests in soils and land use, aquatics, and wildlife/forestry. They also have two hours to prepare a solution to a problem based around the year’s topic (this year, invasive species), which is presented to a panel of judges.
Envirothon has often been called Tri-City’s best-kept secret, and not without cause. Many balk at the idea of doing tests and public speaking on a weekend (not to mention getting up early), but Envirothon has an extremely high returning student rate for a reason. The competition is both fun and fast-paced, with plenty of opportunities to just enjoy the outdoors.
At this year’s site at Lake Pleasant, Tri-City students enjoyed the traditional s’mores bonfire as well as the local hiking trails (where the aforementioned rattlesnakes were found). The weekend wasn’t all recreation, however; TCP’s students worked hard to take home several awards.
In this year’s testing by subject, the team captained by senior Lauren Sarantopulus (with Alex DuBroy, Becca Sorce, Grant Batzli, and Elise Batzli) placed second in soils, first in aquatics, and third in forestry. The TCP team captained by junior Colter Richardson (with Luke Hogue, Gavin Sampson, Sean Riley, and Julia Goswick) took third in wildlife, while the team captained by Amanda Bertsch (with Olin Marman, Keldy Mason, Jaimee Kaufman, and Kaleb Lyonnais) took first in soils with the highest ever score in that section; they also took third in aquatics and second in forestry.
The overall competition is determined by these scores plus the score from the presentation. This year’s presentation problem was that of a park in a fictional town, San Felipe, that had been overrun with invasive and nonnative species. The teams rushed to design a ten-minute presentation in the limited time provided. After presentations the following morning, the teams waited anxiously for the top 3 to be announced.
When a TCP team (namely, Bertsch’s) was announced, that side of the room erupted in cheers. The other students watched the three presentations and waited anxiously for the announcement of the winning team.
In the end, a team from AAEC scored a narrow win to secure a spot at the North American competition in Ontario. However, TCP did place second, with $100 REI gift cards for each team member.
Envirothon season is over for now, but anyone interested in this excellent competition should talk to Mrs. Muchna or Amanda Bertsch!