Partnering with Nature in Watersheds is 2018 current issue
UXBRIDGE, Mass., April 26, 2018 – For the past school year, high school students across the commonwealth have been studying watersheds, water infrastructure and the impact of recent damaging storms in their community, and formulating steps their local leaders can take to protect land and water ecosystems in the watershed.
They’ll present their findings at the 31st annual Massachusetts Envirothon competition on Friday, May 18th at the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, Mass. The approximately 200 students from 27 Massachusetts communities will also test their knowledge of the area’s soils, forests, water, and wildlife as part of the competition.
“By engaging students on real-world environmental issues, the annual Massachusetts Envirothon improves students’ problem-solving skills and creates lifelong passions for preserving and protecting our natural resources,” said state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Massachusetts’ watersheds are vital sources of drinking water and native species habitat, and this year’s competition provides students with the opportunity to learn about their local watersheds and brainstorm solutions to keep them clean and safe.”
At this outdoor field event, teams will rotate through four “ecostations” where they will answer written questions and engage in hands-on activities such as soil analysis, wildlife habitat assessment, tree identification, and water quality measures. Each team will have up to 10 participants and will split into specialized sub-teams during the competition, each focusing their efforts at different ecostations.
At the fifth station, the Current Issue, each team will give a 15-minute presentation on “Partnering with Nature in Watersheds” to a panel of judges. Teams have been researching the Current Issue in their own community in preparation for their presentation. Each panel of judges includes concerned citizens and environmental professionals from government agencies, non-profit organizations, academia and private industry. Teams were asked to assess water infrastructure resources and needs, identify an important partnering opportunity, and make specific recommendations for action.
“These teams work hard getting to know their local ecosystems and how their communities depend on them. We test their scientific knowledge, but we also like to hear their stories about how they have gotten muddy, cold, and tired, and otherwise had fun and fallen in love with nature in their neighborhood. The best hope for the future comes from engaged, scientifically literate citizens who care about their communities and the environment,” said Kelley Freda of the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Water Supply Protection and representative of the Massachusetts Envirothon Steering Committee.
“The Envirothon is more than just a competition about environmental knowledge. Many teams have taken what they’ve learned and put it to work in an action/service project in their community. The program aims to prepare the next generation for the stewardship work that needs to be done,” said Freda. “And this annual competition actually becomes a festive gathering of the environmental community of Massachusetts. At informal lunchtime roundtables, teams will share stories from their EnviroTreks – places they visited, people they talked to, outdoor experiences, and service projects – during the past year.”
The overall winning team will have the opportunity to represent Massachusetts in the North American Envirothon, which will be held July 22-28 in Pocatello, Idaho.
The 2018 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. Dozens of volunteers will also be on hand on May 18th to handle all the event logistics from setting up tents, tables and chairs, checking-in teams, serving food, scoring tests and cleaning up.
For more information on the Massachusetts Envirothon visit www.massenvirothon.org.
2018 PARTICIPATING TEAMS (as of April 26, 2018)
- Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Acton
- Bristol County Agricultural High School, Dighton
- Brockton High School, Brockton
- David Prouty High School, Spencer
- Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School, North Dighton
- Doherty High School, Worcester
- Essex Technical High School – Natural Resource Management, Hathorne
- Fitchburg High School, Fitchburg
- Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech High School, New Bedford
- Greenfield High School, Greenfield
- Leicester High School, Leicester
- Lexington High School, Lexington
- Millbury Jr./Sr. High School, Millbury
- Newton North High School, Newton
- Newton South High School, Newton
- Norfolk County Agricultural High School, Walpole
- Oliver Ames High School, North Easton
- Pioneer Valley Regional School, Northfield
- Plymouth South High School, Plymouth
- Quabbin Regional High School, Barre
- Reading Memorial High School, Reading
- Rockland High School, Rockland
- Seekonk High School, Seekonk
- Shepherd Hill Regional High School, Dudley
- Somerset Berkley Regional High School, Somerset
- Southeastern Regional Voc-Tech High School, South Easton
- Springfield Central High School, Springfield