Renfrew County Regional Envirothon

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Envirothon background information

The Renfrew County Regional Envirothon is an educational program developed by the Ontario Forestry Association that is intended to provide an opportunity for high school students to learn about various environmental disciplines (e.g. aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife). This program is for English and French High School students from grades nine to twelve. It is delivered through field trips, resource materials and competitions at the regional, provincial and North American level. Area secondary school students are encouraged to participate in an interactive field workshop to learn a variety of resource management concepts within these modules followed by a competition to test the newly acquired knowledge. Envirothon uses field testing to develop critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.The winning team of the Renfrew County Envirothon will later represent the county at a provincial competition. We would like to congratulate all Renfrew County students from Madawaska High School, Mackenzie High School, Opeongo High School, Arnprior District High School, Bishop Smith Catholic High School, General Panet High School, Centre Scolaire Jeanne Lajoie Catholique Parllion Secondarie, Fellows High School and Renfrew Collegiate Institute who have participated. Special congratulations to the team from Opeongo High School who proceeded to represent Renfrew County at the Provincial competition in St. George, in 2007 and 2009 and to Mackenzie for representing us in 2008.This program is made possible because of the generous support of many partners. Volunteers and partners and sponsors provide financial and in kind support that make the event possible. The schools participating in 2012 include: General Panet High School, Fellowes High School, Opeongo High School, Anrprior High School and Ecole secondaire catholique Jeanne la Joie.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

General Panet wins a trip Dryden, ON

General Panet Envirothon Team Represents Renfrew County
in Ontario-wide Competition
Submitted by Rebecca Lockley

Envirothon is an annual, environmentally themed, academic competition held in the United States and Canada on a regional, provincial, and national level. It is sponsored by Canon, conservation districts, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Association of Conservation Districts.  In Ontario, the competition is open to students in grades 9-12, testing them on four core subjects of forestry, soils and land use, aquatic ecology and wildlife, along with a current environmental issue, which changes every year.

The Renfrew County Envirothon is sponsored by the Renfrew County Stewardship Council and involved four secondary schools this year: Bishop Smith, General Panet, Fellowes and Opeongo.  Panet won the right to represent Renfrew County in April and proceeded to provincial competition in May at the Tim Horton’s Onondaga Farms in St. George, Ontario.  The school also earned the right to participate in a Northern Forestry exposure tour in Dryden later that month.

Our team of five students, Grade 11 Jake Latham and Grade 12 students Rebecca Lockley, Gareth Martin, Kelsey Serviss and Tanner Stein, were very honored and excited to be representing Renfrew County at the 2011 Provincial Envirothon, but little did we know just what we were in for- the Provincial Envirothon was beyond what we expected.  Our experience here was one that we will not soon forget!  We met high school students from all over Ontario who shared the same interest in the environment as we did.  On our first day we travelled to Princess Point in Hamilton where we were separated into our five different topic groups; wildlife, forestry, aquatics, soils, and estuaries (current issue).  This meant that no two people in a group knew each other and allowed the chance to meet and socialize with many new people.  We worked in teams within the group for some field work which allowed us to make friends and hear what others have done in relation the Envirothon. 

We participated in a Legacy Project.  For this project half of the students and supervisors planted trees in the park while the rest covered a large land area, smothering invasive species and planting native ones.  This involved laying down wet newspaper to smother the invasive grass, cover it with mulch and then plant native prairie grass plugs.  This was hard work but was fun because everyone had a great time working together with new people.  It was the perfect opportunity to make friends and help the environment at the same time!  Our hard work was rewarded when we went on a Trolley Ride through the Hamilton Harbor.  The Harbor has been restored in a way that is more environmentally friendly.  The work is absolutely spectacular and the Harbor looks amazing.  It was such a learning experience to know how bad the Harbor had been and how it affected surrounding areas and waterways, and then to have it improved and cleaned so significantly.

 The last two days of our stay were field testing and restoration project presentations that were done with our group, but the hard work was always balanced with fun events.  One evening there was a dance held in the barn.  It started off with some good old square dancing but later led to more modern music.  For those who were not so inclined to attend a dance, the Camp was so big that there were endless amounts of places to explore and enjoy!  Whatever your preference there was always something for everyone to do.

One of the best parts of the Envirothon was the bonfire on the last night.  The team from Toronto, who placed third overall, attended their first bonfire, roasted their first marshmallow, and looked up at the stars for the very first time!  Our first experience at the Provincial Envirothon was truly mind-blowing and exceeded our expectations in all aspects! 

On top of travelling to compete in the Provincial Envirothon we won a trip up north to Dryden for a week to attend their annual Conservation Camp.  Conservation Camp, or “Con Camp”, is an annual event held since 1957 by Dryden High School providing the opportunity for students to spend three days in the field learning key aspects of conservation and management from resource management experts.  The objective of this course is to “broaden the understanding of resource management and encourage appreciation of conservation concepts while enjoying the outdoor setting”.  2011 was announced the International Year of the Forest by the UN to raise awareness and strengthen the sustainability of all forests for current and future generations.

 This year was the first year that students from Southern Ontario were invited to attend; students from Petawawa, Dundas and Owen Sound.  The Ontario Forestry Association, or OFA, funded the Southern students completely for the whole trip.  If it was not for them we would not have had the chance to attend this camp and for that we thank them immensely!  We flew to Thunder Bay where we went on a bus tour of the city.  We saw the pulp mill, Terry Fox monument and many other sites unique to the area. 

The following day we were given tours of Confederation College and Lakehead University.  Lakehead gave us a very detailed and interesting presentation based on their environmental program and intrigued all students and supervisors in attendance.  After our tours we headed off for the four-hour drive to Dryden.  The OFA were so supportive of us attending this camp and were very accommodating for us.  Everything we needed was provided to us and the OFA members that travelled with us were so much fun to have around. 

 The first day of Conservation Camp started with us meeting the Grade 10 students from Dryden High School that would be attending Con Camp with us.  We played ice breaker games which allowed us to introduce ourselves.  We were all divided into different groups and learned about orienteering.  This involved learning how to use a compass, pacing, and generally getting from Point A to Point B as easily as possible!  Later on we met some trappers and learned all about the fur trade, practiced how to properly identify trees and did benthic tests, which is water and aquatic life analysis.  At the end of the day we participated in our second Legacy Project of the year – planting trees!  We planted hundreds of jack pine plugs in the campground where we were for the day.  It felt so good to be doing our part in restoring the Jack Pine tree population in the area and improving the quality of life there for future generations. 

On our second day we visited the Domtar site.  This is an incredible site where they cut down the trees that are later shipped off to the paper mills.  Their planning is so well thought out and detailed.  Every detail is set and cleared before a single tree is taken down.  They taught us about how, after years of historic research, they clear cut in a way that imitates a forest fire so the forest re-grows naturally.  We spent most of the morning learning how to do a tree plot. 

That night we all ate supper together and did several activities.  It was such a good idea to have everyone together outside of the “learning environment”.  This allowed us to spend some quality time with all the people we had come to know.  Our final day of Con Camp brought us into the bush where we were split into different groups once again.  Each group had a different purpose, for example soil analysis and wildlife.  Afterwards we all met up at a camp ground where we got to have some fun!  The forest firefighters were there and taught us how to roll up the hoses into a “melon”, pitch tents and allowed us to play lots of games with the fire hose!  Our final assignment of the week was to design a plan for the piece of land which we had analyzed that morning, keeping in mind the data that we had collected.  It was very challenging at times but a good experience working together to create the best plan for a piece of land.

Overall both trips provided us with the opportunity of a lifetime!  It was absolutely amazing to have learned what we did.  We truly experienced something that opened all our eyes to how beautiful and important our environment is.  It also allowed us to meet kids our age who share the same interest in our planet that we have!  We have had an abundance of learning and tons more fun!  These past few months have even encouraged a few students to pursue a career in forestry!  A big thank you to all the sponsors and supporters of both these spectacular events!  Without these people there would be nothing like this to inform young people about the importance of our environment and what we can do to help it.  These have been trips that provide lasting memories and amazing academic opportunities.  General Panet looks forward to attending next year’s Envirothon to do this all over again!
General Panet Envirothon Team: Princess Point(Coote’s Paradise), Hamilton, Ontario
(Standing) Left to Right: Kelsey Serviss, Rebecca Lockley, Jake Latham, Gareth Martin.
(Sitting) Left to Right: Mrs. Morris (Teacher), Tanner Stein.
 Tim Horton’s provided free transportation to the Provincial Envirothon at Camp Onondaga Farms.

Appreciation Poster - 2011 Renfrew County Envirothon