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 pam.landry@mass.gov. Please put Envirothon Engagement in the subject line. For Massachusetts wildlife fact sheets visit https://www.mass.gov/orgs/division-of-fisheries-and-wildlife

If interested, post your observations of plants, wildlife, and more through the NCF-Envirothon iNaturalist project  https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/ncf-envirothon?tab=about

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.

quabbin

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

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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.

Kelley

Envirothon Steering Committee Chair

2020 MA State Grange Scholarships

The MGrange_Roots_Logo_finalassachusetts State Grange will again sponsor the 2020 EnviroTrek Lunch at the Massachusetts Envirothon Competition on May 14th, 2020 at Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown. Massachusetts Envirothon is extremely grateful for their continued support!

Five $300 scholarships will be made available to teams for the 2019-2020 program year.

Teams will be invited to propose how they would spend this scholarship money – e.g. Envirothon related equipment, field trips, transportation, or registration.”  Priority will be given to new teams, teams that have not been awarded grants previously, and teams with financial need.

To apply, fill out the form below! Applications are due by Feb 14, 2020 @ 5pm. MESC will vote on March 12, 2020 and teams will be notified soon after.

Envirothon Teams and Coaches recognized for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education

Four Envirothon teams and their coaches were recognized today as part of a State House ceremony when Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides honored 32 energy and environmental education programs at Massachusetts schools and nonprofits as part of the 25th Annual Secretary’s Awards for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education (5/6/19).

Congratulations to Joyce Voorhis, Brockton High School; Joanne Bernier, Leicester High School; Sarah Johnson and Ann Taft, Fitchburg High School; and Angela Armstrong, Rockland High School for their contributions to environmental education, and to their teams for going above and beyond to learn and take action! EEA News Release is linked here.

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