Groton School takes 4th place at NCF Envirothon

Congratulations to Groton School’s Envirothon team their 4th place finish at the 2021 Virtual NCF Envirothon!

Led by captain Amy Ma, Groton School students Amelia Lee, Alice Liu, Aisling O’Connell, and Aidan O’Connell worked hard in June and July to prepare for the Virtual NCF (National Conservation Foundation) competition hosted by the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts.

The team took 5 one hour tests on Monday with a proctor and used resources sent from Nebraska to complete the station tests in Aquatics, Wildlife, Soils, Forestry and the Current Environmental Issue: Water Resources Management: Local Control and Local Solutions. Their oral presentation was conducted over Zoom on Tuesday.

Big thanks to coach Dr. David Black Jr for his support, and Groton School staff for accommodating the team at the last minute as well as to the O’Connell family for hosting the far-flung students during the competition days. Preparing for the event this year took at lot of flexibility and creativity on top of mastering a mountain of virtual information! The MA Envirothon Steering Committee is very proud of this novice team and looks forward to their continued participation.

Congratulations to Groton School!

2021 Virtual Massachusetts Envirothon winners announced

WESTFORD, Mass., May 25, 2021 – The results are in from the 2020-2021 Massachusetts Envirothon education program and competition for high school students, which was held remotely due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The Groton School was the top overall scoring team and will represent Massachusetts at the 2021 National Envirothon Competition being held virtually in July 2021.

The competition included two components, for which teams prepared for and presented remotely: the Natural Resource Challenge and the Current Issue. This year’s Current Issue topic was “Water Resource Management and Climate Change.” Winners were determined based on overall combined scores for both components.

Lexington High School placed second and Newton South High School placed third overall in the competition.

Eight teams, with three to 10 members each, participated: Acton Boxborough Regional High School, Brockton High School / Wildlands Trust, The Groton School, Lexington High School, Millbury Jr. Sr. High School, Newton South High School, Quabbin Regional High School and Shepherd Hill Regional High School (Dudley/Charlton).

The Natural Resource Challenge allowed teams to apply their knowledge of the four natural resource topic areas – soil, wildlife, water, and forest – by taking on the role of an environmental consultant. Each team submitted a 30-minute or less video presentation on their review of a fictional school building proposal. The school was to be built on a currently forested woodlands and wetlands parcel owned by a town. In their video presentations, teams identified environmental or human health issues and determined if this was the best placement for the proposed school and supporting services. They also used GIS mapping and answered questions about site soils, the Mass Wetlands Protection Act, carbon sequestration, drinking water regulations and wildlife. The Groton School (first place), Lexington (second place) and Newton South (third place) scored the highest for this challenge.

For the Current Issue portion of the Envirothon program, each team explored a significant environmental issue as it occurs in their own community and produced a 10-minute video on their research. Panels of five judges reviewed these videos and then engaged in twenty minutes of questions and discussion with each team in a live on-line meeting. To make the competition as fair as possible in this new format, a second round of judging was added, with a single panel of judges reviewing and ranking the three top scoring presentations: The Groton School (first), Lexington High School (second) and Acton-Boxboro Regional High School (third).

The Massachusetts Envirothon challenges young people to get outdoors and explore, gaining hands-on knowledge and experience of Massachusetts ecosystems. They engage with their communities and develop skills for investigating local environmental issues, and learn how to actively participate in community decisions.

The competition provides a challenge that allows participants to test their environmental knowledge and skills.

“We hope that Envirothon participants will grow in their commitment to stewardship of the environment and natural resources, and cultivate their curiosity and love of learning,” said Mass. Envirothon Steering Committee Chair Kelley Freda of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation- Division of Water Supply Protection.  “The Envirothon also increases students’ awareness of career opportunities in the environmental field.”

The 2020-2021 Massachusetts Envirothon was made possible through the contributions of partnering agencies and organizations, including financial support from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, the U.S. Forest Service, the Massachusetts Grange, Environmental Business Council of New England, individual contributions and local conservation districts.

Multiple federal and state environmental agencies, conservation districts, non-profit organizations, higher educational institutions, and businesses are involved in planning and delivering the Massachusetts Envirothon program each year. For more information on the Massachusetts Envirothon visit

2021 Current Issue Videos

8 Teams submitted videos for the 2021 Virtual MA Envirothon Current Issue: Water Management and Climate Change. We hope you’ll enjoy watching them as much as we did!

Acton Boxborough Regional High School

Brockton High School / Wildlands Trust

Groton School

Lexington High School

Millbury Jr. Sr. High School

Newton South High School

Quabbin Regional High School

Shepherd Hill Regional High School

2021 Virtual Awards Ceremony

You are invited to watch the 2021 Virtual Awards Ceremony for Massachusetts Envirothon! Celebrate the hard work teams have achieved during this year of virtual learning. Click here to watch a recording of the zoom webinar from Friday May 21, 2021.

Current Issue sessions look different this year, but there is still an excellent exchange of learning between teams and judges! The Envirothon community is strong and resilient!

2021 Virtual Envirothon!

Is it a good idea to build a new high school on a piece of forested land? What is your community doing to protect local water resources in light of climate change impacts? High School aged youth across the commonwealth are invited to tackle a virtual “Natural Resource Challenge” and this year’s Current Issue “Water Resources and Climate Change” by submitting 2 presentations in early May. The highest scoring team of 5-10 students will move on to represent Massachusetts in the virtual NCF Envirothon in July! Read more here

The Natural Resource Challenge asks teams to evaluate the impact of a new high school on the soil, water, wildlife, and forest of this piece of land. Using a free GIS mapping program (provided by MassGIS) and many curated online resources teams will submit a video of their findings to Envirothon ecostation leaders.
Since we can’t gather in a tent, Current Issue presentations will be held over zoom! Submit your 10 minute video about what your community is doing to protect water resources and then have a conversation with a panel of judges to discuss your findings! more details here

Offline Engagements

Get yourself outside! Safely, of course! Nature is all around you, no matter where you live. Can you find 15 minutes a few times a week to head out the door and look (and listen!) around you?

Go outside, wherever you live, and make observations of the ‘wildness’ around you with a special eye to the connection of wildlife, water, soils and forests. Select the same area (yard, vacant lot, field, woods, neighborhood) every time you go outside so you can gain a better understanding of the natural world you inhabit. Engage all of your senses, connect to your surroundings, learn who and what are your natural neighbors, ask questions, be curious, spend 15 minutes 3x/week on the same Engagement. Once the fifth Engagement is completed start again at number one since there will be many natural changes throughout the seasons.

Collaborate with your teammates as you each go out to investigate your own respective area at the same time and day, make observations and then reconvene, electronically, to compare and contrast your observations, and share reflections on the experience. Feel free to share your observations or questions with Pam Landry, MassWildlife Education Coordinator at Please put Envirothon Engagement in the subject line. For Massachusetts wildlife fact sheets visit

If interested, post your observations of plants, wildlife, and more through the NCF-Envirothon iNaturalist project

Engagement #1: Observation (Learning to Look, Looking to See) It’s a pdf you can print with directions and space for a journal entry- or just jot the info down on paper to share with your team when you connect virtually.

Engagement #2: Maps (Sense of Place)– make a birds eye view sketch of the terrain around you- what do you notice?

Engagement #3: Trees! Did you catch the webinar on Tree ID? Even if you didn’t, head out and take a look around- what characteristics do you notice? Do you see any wildlife using the trees? Are there different kinds of trees in different places? Let us know what you observe!

Engagement #4: Birds! Were you one of the millions of folks who got really excited about watching birds at the beginning of the pandemic? Even if you’re not a certified bird nerd (yet), take a look (and a listen!) around outside and notice your feathered neighbors.

Engagement #5: Focused Observation of Wildlife– Can you find a critter to watch near you? Yes Squirrels count, but is there anything else in your neighborhood? What did you need to do to observe the animal?

All 2020-21 Program events will be Virtual

Due to the Pandemic and resulting State guidelines for safety, all MA Envirothon events will be virtual for the 2020-21 program year. The Steering Committee issued this statement on 10.13.20:

The Committee is planning a virtual event for May 2021. All team registration fees will be waived for this program year. To participate, we invite all teams to attend virtual webinars and workshops leading up to the May event and a commitment to be involved in the actual event. The Committee looks forward to all the creative possibilities that a remote program affords.

Opportunities to be involved in planning the Virtual May event will be held in the coming months .

The first Webinar was on Wednesday October 21 at 7pm in honor of A World Without Water Day. You can view a recording of this Webinar here . Many more webinars will be announced soon!

2020 Massachusetts Envirothon team presentations go online

In response to the coronavirus pandemic in spring 2020, the Massachusetts Envirothon program replaced its annual large, outdoor, in-person competition, which had been scheduled for May 14th, with an experiment in online team presentations.

“We told teams that this was not intended to be an academic exercise; we were asking them to produce a video that presented a message they felt was important for their communities to hear,” said Will Snyder, of UMass Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program, who developed background materials and guidelines for teams with extensive input from members of the Massachusetts Envirothon Steering Committee and Council.

In place of the usual five-part competition, the Massachusetts Envirothon offered teams a single real-life challenge: teams were invited to submit an online audio-visual presentation in the form of a message to their communities. The presentations were reviewed by more than 30 environmental professionals, who offered comments.

“We provided a review process to provide feedback that would help them sharpen and clarify their presentations if they chose,” said Snyder.


Teams were given several options for developing their presentations:

  1. Focus on the planned 2020 Current Issue, Sustainable Safe Water Supply, drawing on all the Envirothon natural resource management topics to answer the question: What actions should our communities take now to ensure an ecologically healthy and resilient water supply for the future?
  2. Widen their focus to look at the ways the world is changing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and think about what that means for their community, and the world.
  3. Combine these two choices or determine their own focus.

Five teams submitted videos:

“The full story of this learning experience is told not only in the videos that the teams created, but also in the comments from the reviewers,” said Snyder. A representative sample of review comments are included with each video.

The Massachusetts Envirothon is made possible through the contributions of partnering agencies and organizations, including financial support from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, the U.S. Forest Service, the Massachusetts Grange, Environmental Business Council of New England, Wegman’s supermarkets and local conservation districts. Fifteen federal and state environmental agencies, conservation districts, non-profit organizations, higher educational institutions, and businesses provide expertise and help organize the event.

2020 On-line Presentations

We hope you are well and staying safe in these unprecedented times. Due to the many uncertainties going forward, we have decided to replace the 2020 Massachusetts Envirothon competition scheduled for May 14th with an experiment in online team presentations. There will be no face-to-face event at the Quabbin on May 14.

The MA Envirothon Steering Committee and Council have developed an alternative to the competition- a non-competitive, digital opportunity for teams to be creative and share the hard work accomplished this year. This alternative will be submitted as a “team presentation” with the requirement that teams comply with social distancing rules. Submission deadline has been extended to May 14.

Learn more about the presentations…download the invitation as a pdf…

Kelley Freda, Chair, MA Envirothon Steering Committee


2016 spring workshop, students in soil pit- not safe this year!

Winter Workshop Cancelled AGAIN

Good morning everyone. I wanted to let you all know that due to the Governor’s orders yesterday we are required to CANCEL Fridays workshop at MWCC.  MassEnvirothon falls under the umbrella of an Executive Branch and therefore cannot host any outside events for the time being. This has been a trying year for all of us and please know that any decisions on cancellations made by the Steering Committee do not come lightly. The safety of our volunteers, students and coaches is always at the forefront of our discussions and we are just as disappointed when we have to reschedule or cancel an event. Thank you all for your support of the Envirothon, your understanding and stay safe.


Envirothon Steering Committee Chair