By Aila Boyd
aboyd@ourvalley.org

A four-person James River High School team, James River High School No. 1, emerged victorious during the Mountain Castles Soil & Water Conservation District Envirothon last Thursday.

The team was coached by Claire Stull, a teacher at James River High School. Team members are Audrey Fleming, Katie Keith, Summer Williamson, and Jacob Hill.

The winners of the high school competition included the following:

  • First Place: James River High School No. 1

  • Second Place: Craig County High School No. 1

  • Third Place: Craig County High School No. 2

The winners of the middle school competition included the following:

  • First Place: Craig County Middle School No. 1

  • Second Place: Read Mountain Middle School No. 3

  • Third Place: Read Mountain Middle School No. 1

This marked the second year that the competition was held at Fenwick Mines Recreation Area in Craig County and the fourth year that the competition has been going on in the area. The topic for this year was “Agriculture and the Environment: Knowledge and Technology to Feed the World.”

Roughly 80 students and 15 teams competed in the event last Thursday.

It’s fun to come out and experience the day,” Tim Miller, education and outreach coordinator for Mountain Castles Soil & Water Conservation District, said. “Hopefully the kids learned something.”

The top three high school teams are now eligible to compete in the area competition at Cyrus McCormick Farm in Raphine on May 1.

They have the chance to interact with our forestry and soils people, so it’s fun to see that there are careers if you so choose,” Miller said.

Teams from high schools in both Botetourt and Craig counties were represented in the competition. Miller said that he likes to get students engaged in the competition early on, so middle school students were also allowed to participate.

We’ve had a really good middle school response,” Miller said, noting that this is the first year that Craig County Middle School took part in the event.

Although middle school teams participated in the competition, only the high school teams were able to progress to the area competition.

Miller also noted that his three goals for each Envirothon include: no use of a first aid kit, everyone has fun, and that learning occurs.

Six Soil and Water Conservation Districts make up Area I. The districts include the counties and cities of Rockbridge, Lexington, Buena Vista, Rockingham, Page, Harrisonburg, Warren, Shenandoah, Clarke, Frederick, Bath, Alleghany, Highland, Covington, Botetourt, Craig, Augusta, Staunton, and Waynesboro.

The top three teams in each of the six area competitions qualify for the state competition on May 19 and 20 at Mary Washington University in Fredericksburg.

The state winner will eventually compete in the North American Envirothon.

Envirothon consists of five “in-the-field” test stations— soils, wildlife, aquatics, forestry, and a current environmental issue— where teams answer questions in both written and hands-on formats. During an oral presentation at the area and state competitions, teams brief their solution on the current environmental issue before industry and natural resource professionals who serve as judges. Students work in teams and are encouraged to work throughout the school year to prepare to compete at the local district level to qualify to compete at the area level. Up to five students are allowed on a team for the area and state competitions.

Envirothon is sponsored by Dominion Energy and is administered by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Virginia’s 47 Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Those interested in volunteering or learning more about starting an Envirothon team at their high school, 4-H, FFA Ecology club or home school group should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts at (804) 559-0324.

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