High school students get ‘hands-on’ to test their knowledge of the natural world

Monday, April 24, 2017

Female student in red top and glasses, looking down and writing with specimens of birds in glass displays in front of her

Last week the Ecology Lab welcomed 45 high school students for the annual Envirothon event, an experiential team competition designed to get high school students outdoors and learning about the natural environment. Established by Forests Ontario in 1994 the challenge is designed to equip students with the skills and leadership they need for a future “green career”.

“Envirothon is a great opportunity for students to learn in-depth material about the environment and test that knowledge in a high-energy competition day,” said Lab Coordinator Bev Raimbault. “It also gives them insight into what a career in the environment sector would look like.”

Young woman with blonde hair and glasses hold taxidermy bird in a glass display caseCallie Stirling competed in the Envirothon when she was in 11th-grade. “It was a lot of fun and encouraged me to learn more about the natural environment around me,” she reflected. After that experience, her curiosity and desire to learn more about resource management and ecology eventually led her to explore undergraduate options at the University of Waterloo. Now she’s a third-year student in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability (SERS) and working a co-op term as an Ecology Lab Assistant in the Ecology Lab. Coming full circle with Envirothon, Callie served as an assistant at the Wildlife Station at this year’s competition.

Callie’s was just one of the stations students visited during the day-long completion. Other stations tested their knowledge of forests, soils, and aquatic ecosystems. Students were also required to prepare and deliver an 8-minute presentation based on this year’s theme of sustainable agriculture.

The Grand River Conservation Authority and City of Kitchener are partners on the regional competitions, which are open to high school students from grades 9 – 12. Raimbault says some students had been preparing since early fall. “I was communicating with some of the teachers in September,” she told us, “and they said, ‘at the lunch hours, that’s what our teams are doing; they’re studying for the Envirothon.’”At the end of the day, all that studying paid off for the each of the students who got a chance to test their knowledge, flex their critical thinking skills and hone their problem-solving prowess.

Diverse group of students and their teachers smiling with certificateMembers of Waterloo Collegiate Team A (left to right):  Mark Menhennet (teacher), Markus Kangur, Nick Pfeifle, Matugi Kaai, Benjamin Wahl, Vivek Patil

Diverse group of students and their teachers smiling with certificateMembers of Westmount Secondary School Team B: (not necessarily in order) Chris Eckart (teacher), Araz Said, Maxwell Gyimah, Kieran Davis, Emma Frketich, Quentin DiFrancesco

 

Congratulations to Waterloo Collegiate Institute Team A, who won first place for the Grand River Region and Westmount Secondary School Team B, who took top place for the Hamilton-Wentworth Region. Both teams will now be moving on to the provincial competition which runs May 28 – 31 2017 at Fleming College in Lindsay, Ontario.

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