Wednesday, May 21, 2008

State Envirothon Competition

On Sunday May 18th, the MHS Envirothon team headed to JMU for an all-expense paid trip to the state competition. The team had won at both the district & area levels earlier in the spring and was looking forward to another competition.

After checking in and picking up our dorm room keys, the team decided to explore the stream & tunnels near our dorm.

The first day of competition was just the oral presentation. There were 18 teams scheduled (17 showed) for 30 minutes each. Presentations could be as long as 20 minutes with 5 minutes for set up and 5 minutes for questions from the judges.
Since they were scheduled to give their oral presentation at 3:30, we found a practice room at 2 and they went over their talk several times.

Here they are afterwards, looking a bit more relaxed! The teams wouldn't find out until the next day how they did or who had won. With just an hour before the other chaperone was due and no time to go anywhere else, they played frisbee.

We went to the local mall for a quick trip and then to the bookstore. Then it was time for dinner and studying. Jim & I both brought our work too. There's nothing like being back in the dorm lounge to make you feel like you should be studying something!

The second day involved 5 rotations of an hour each. Forty-five minutes for the written test at each area and 15 minutes for travel. The strangest part of this competition is how different it was from the area competition. At the area competition the teams went into the woods and identified trees, and had to build a forest. They had to climb into a soil pit and identify the levels of the soil. They were shown preserved insects to identify. Here they took written tests. They only tests that required hands-on work were Soils and Wildlife.

The Aquatics test was taken near a stream!

Soils - here even the soils to be identified turned out to be cement painted to look like the different soil layers.

After the Soils test, they had the special issue test. This year the special issue was recreational impacts on the national parks.

They took their Forestry test on a concrete patio. Too funny really. They were told to bring their Biltmore stick so they could measure trees, but never needed it.

Wildlife - this test included a lot of identification, which was more in line with the earlier competitions. The only problem here was that there were too many teams trying to use the exhibits at the same time.

I hate to complain about the way the tests were given, because the facilities were wonderful! Apparently, the last time our school's team went to states the competition was held at a 4H camp where the beds were uncomfortable and the food was awful. No complaints from me about any of the accommodations or food! Everything was great. It just seems that a competition like this should actually involve getting dirty!

Here's the team with their coach. They were supported by the Thomas Jefferson Soil & Water Conservation District.

In the end, our team took 3rd place in the oral presentation and 5th overall. This is the highest any MHS Envirothon team has ever finished!


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