A beautiful day for beautiful minds.
Students from nine schools in Warren County spent Thursday afternoon in nearly 80-degree weather as they worked their way through five stations in the annual Envirothon at Chapman State Park.
Beaty-Warren Middle School, Eisenhower Middle High School, Sheffield Area Middle High School, Tidioute Charter School, Warren Area High School, Warren County Christian School, Warren County Homeschoolers, Youngsville Elementary and Youngsville High School competed against each other with junior varsity and varsity teams in five categories: soils, wildlife, forestry, aquatics and current issues.
Warren Area High School varsity team Aeshnidae won first place with 370 points; Youngsville High School Team 1 was second with 275 1/2 points; Warren County Homeschool Varsity was third with 264 points; and Tidioute Community Charter School team Where’s the leak Ma’am was fourth with 262 points.
In the junior varsity category, the WAHS Aeshnidae junior varsity team also won first place with 287 1/2 points; Warren County Christian School team Abby’s Machines was second with 256 1/2 points; Eisenhower Team 1 was third with 214 1/2 points; and Tidioute Community Charter School team Envirodogs was fourth with 208 1/2 points.
This was the second year of competition for WCCS ninth-grader Marcus Root, who said the team began preparing for the competition at the beginning of the school year.
“I think we did pretty good,” he said, but admitted the team had to guess on a true or false question. “We were going over the stuff we figured would be on the test all year…” he said.
Abby’s Machines team captain and 10th grader Abby Root said the team’s name is partly a reference to the television show “NCIS” and is an inside joke, though the Times Observer was not let in what that was.
“We mostly study what we did the worst on last year,” WCCS ninth-grader Tommy Jones said, “but we go on the website and they have all kinds of references.”
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources District Forester Cecile Stelter manned the forestry station with DCNR Service Forester for Warren County John Nobles, where students were tasked with measuring board feet and volume of a tree using a Biltmore stick.
A number of factors are threatening Pennsylvania’s forests the largest of which are managed by the state from invasive species to fragmentation and generation loss of interest in forest management.
“Maybe one of these days these kids may be inheriting some of the properties from their parents or grandparents, they’ll have a better idea of some of their options and they’ll be able to make better decisions,” Stelter said, “and maybe some of them will actually be working in the woods some day. That’d be nice.”
Liz Dropp of the Conewango Creek Watershed Association was tasked with trying to make soil interesting to the students. Trying to teach the appreciation of soil is challenging, so letting the students get hands-on and in the soil pit works best.
“Soil’s really critical to our food system and people take it for granted,” Dropp said about the soil station. “Soil is really complex; we try to focus on visual things that the kids can see because it does take some time to learn to notice the subtleties. We’re looking for coloration changes, or structure changes.”