Photo from Left seated: Pam Zipze, *Ginette Day, *Candace Lille, and Mary Evangelista. Standing: Charlie Newlon, *Roger Smith,           *Bob Meierjurgen, *McDuffy Barrow, Bill Brash, Alec McCartney, Craig Kane and *Rick Dutko.       Note: *Denotes NJFS staff at FREC.

Photo from Left seated: Pam Zipze, *Ginette Day, *Candace Lille, and Mary Evangelista. Standing: Charlie Newlon, *Roger Smith, *Bob Meierjurgen, *McDuffy Barrow, Bill Brash, Alec McCartney, Craig Kane and *Rick Dutko. Note: *Denotes NJFS staff at FREC.

(Article compiled by Charlie Newlon. Photo by Jon Dugan)

The 2015 New Jersey Envirothon was held on Saturday, May 2, 2015  at the Cape May County 4H Fair Grounds. The Current Issue for this year was “Urban/Community Forestry.”  Six NJDSAF members helped staff the Team Presentations (Pam Zipse and Alec McCartney) and Forestry Stations (Bill Brash, Charlie Newlon, Craig Kane and Mary Evangelista).

Rick Dutko of FREC, the Forestry Station Coordinator reported that among 36 teams, in the overall competition, the two “MATES” teams from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science in Manahawkin won again as they had last year. The two teams ranked #1 and #2.  West Windsor – Plainsboro North High School took #3.  Their scores for just the Forestry Tests were MATES Team One – 92; MATES Team Two – 89 and WWP North – 96. There was one perfect forestry score of 50 on the written test (Mates Team #1) and the highest on the hands-on was 47 (WWP North).  Kudos to Pam and Alec for the test questions!

This is a Hands-On Natural Resources Problem-Solving Competition. The host site and current issue vary from year to year. Each year the Envirothon features a specific, Current Environmental Issue and questions at the Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife and Team Presentations Stations. Test questions may cover any information in the study guide and suggested resource materials or web links. The contest consists of hands-on questions along with some true/false, multiple choice and fill-in-the-blanks. There were 30 minutes allowed at each station to complete the hands-on and written tests. Teams were comprised of five students and at least one advisor. The team advisor or “coach” facilitated team preparation for the competition. Teams who elect to do so camped at the site the night before the contest. Many students and teachers are drawn to return each year not only by the competition, but because of the camping and camaraderie they experience at the event.

The Envirothon partners offer training and study guides for this preparation. Organized training sessions give students the opportunity to meet a wide range of professionals working in environment-related fields. The study guides acquaint students with background material to help participants prepare for the competition. Training trunks are full of materials to supplement students’ preparation. The Online Study Guide can also be used to supplement regular lesson plans. Preparation for the Envirothon helps meet New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards in Language, Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.

Teams of students in grades 9 – 12 from all over the state along with their advisors gathered this year to participate in the New Jersey Envirothon Competition. The Cape Atlantic Soil Conservation District (SCD) was the host district for 2015.

This is a very worthwhile program, a program in which all SAF members should participate. From my view more high schools should participate and this is a perfect place for SAF members to help train the students for the competition. From my experience with Envirothon teams in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey over the past 20 years, just a few hours, even as little as two 2-hour sessions after school helping teach 5 kids about forestry and answering their natural resource questions does wonders helping them prepare for competition. Look at the on-line study guides and then see if your local or nearby High School biology teacher wants Envirothon training help. For instance, just the simple thing of about 5 minutes of your time in a training session explaining, in tree ID, what Genus and species mean would have helped 1/3 of the teams up their scores this year. We all see that few kids are aware of natural resource professions much less spend significant time in the out of doors except for sports. Here is your chance to start doing something to buck the tide.