DU biologists volunteer for North Dakota Envirothon competition

Twenty-two teams of high school students braved wind, cold and rain at this year's Envirothon held recently in Crystal Springs, North Dakota. Envirothon is an annual competition where teams of five students are tested on their knowledge of natural resources and the environment. The theme for this year's competition was urban and community forestry.

Trail leaders guide each team and are responsible for getting the teams to each station on time, making sure they understand the rules, and keeping them energized and hydrated. Ducks Unlimited Farm Bill Conservation Specialists Matt Shappell and Dane Buysse served as trail guides at this year's competition.

The competition lasts all day with teams following two trails with 14 stops on each. One trail had wildlife and forestry related questions and the second featured aquatic and soil-related questions. Most of the stops presented multiple questions.

"This is a real feather in the hat for North Dakota students," said Diane Olson, competition coordinator.

The winners of the North Dakota competition receive a $500 college scholarship and go on to the North American Envirothon competition, which will be held in Springfield, Missouri this year.

The competition continues into the evening when the students hear a presentation by a natural resources professional about the theme. The teams prepare an oral presentation based on the presentation and theme for the next day. They have two and a half hours to organize their presentation, and then they give it in front of a panel of judges.

"The competition is quite grueling and really tests these kids' diversity of knowledge in several areas of resource management," said Shappell.

Buysse participated in the Envirothon when he was in high school. Buysse says his motivation for helping at the competition was to inform the next generation about conservation and develop skills for communicating with young people. "Our actions today will establish the potential for tomorrow," he said. "My dream is to ensure the next generation can enjoy the great outdoors I had when I grew up."

Shappell guided the Minot High School "Super Omnia Tectas" team, which took first place. The team was coached by Joe Super and David Norton and sponsored by The Ward County Soil Conservation District. Second place went to Midkota High School "Team 1" sponsored by the Foster County Soil Conservation District. Third place went to Bismarck High School's "E-Society," sponsored by the Burleigh County Soil Conservation District.