Sunday, December 11, 2011
in Ontario-wide Competition
Submitted by Rebecca Lockley
Envirothon is an annual, environmentally themed, academic competition held in the
United States and 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 Canada , 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. Ontario
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 . The school also earned the right to participate in a Northern Forestry exposure tour in Dryden later that month. St. George, Ontario
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
who shared the same interest in the environment as we did. On our first day we travelled to Princess Point in Ontario 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. Hamilton
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
. 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. Hamilton Harbor
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
, 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! Toronto
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
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 Dryden High School 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 . 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 Owen Sound 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. Thunder Bay
The following day we were given tours of
Confederation College and . 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. Lakehead University
The first day of Conservation Camp started with us meeting the Grade 10 students from
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. Dryden High School
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),
(Standing) Left to Right: Kelsey Serviss, Rebecca Lockley, Jake Latham, Gareth Martin.
(Sitting) Left to Right: Mrs. Morris (Teacher), Tanner Stein.