Envirothon is an outdoor competition designed to encourage student interest in natural resource conservation and environmental management. It is a field-oriented program in which students, working in teams of five, learn to use critical thinking and communications skills, work as a team, and develop their problem-solving abilities to answer written and oral questions and conduct hands-on investigations in five study areas: aquatic ecology, forestry, soils and land use, wildlife, and a current environmental issue. The IRL competition adds one additional subject area: ecology of the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, one of the most bio-diverse estuaries in the continental United States.
History of Envirothon
The Envirothon concept was created by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts in 1979 as the “Environmental Olympics.” This unique hands-on, outdoor environmental program quickly gained popularity among school districts and eventually spread to other states. The first national Envirothon was held in 1988 when teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio and Massachusetts competed. In 1992, the first Canadian provinces entered into the competition as well. In 1997, Canon began supporting the Envirothon and became the title sponsor in 1999. Today, the North American Envirothon is a program of the National Conservation Foundation and is referred to as the NCF-Envirothon. Sponsorship for the program comes from local conservation districts, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Forestry Associations and the National Association of Conservation Districts.
Envirothons are structured around regional and statewide competitions. The Indian River Lagoon Envirothon is held each year in February and includes both middle and high school teams. The winning high school teams from each of the counties participating in the IRL Envirothon (Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee) may then compete in the statewide Florida Envirothon, held in April. Winning teams from state competitions then go on to compete in the annual Canon Envirothon, held in July.
Envirothon is the largest environmental competition in North America, involving over 500,000 high school students each year. The international competition hosts over 600 students, advisors, volunteers and parents from the United States and 9 Canadian provinces. Teams compete for over $125,000 in scholarships and Canon products.