Left to right, is team advisor Jim Mesik, CJ Dietzel, Rianna Babatz, Lexi Morrow, Paige Lueck, and Hailey Buckentin.(Photo submitted by Jim Mesik)

Despite the few nice days we’ve had, the Central High School Envirothon team has been hard at work preparing for competition. They’ve now returned, and while they aren’t going to state competition this year, the experience still held value for each student involved.

The Envirothon is a contest that, surprisingly enough, relates to the environment. Students learn various aspects of nature, such as soil, aquatics, wildlife, and forestry. They analyze, test, and understand how each system has to work. The activities are very hands-on and involve a lot of outdoor study.

Every year, the team gets to show their knowledge at this contest held at the Arboretum. They are of course tested on each aspect as well as giving an oral presentation. This year’s presentation covered sustainable farming practices. Though small, only five people, the team finished just outside of the top 10, taking the best in soils and the oral presentation.

The students are graded on their teamwork as well as their knowledge. They can receive an array of tests from guessing bird calls to testing water to simply answering multiple choice. Much of what they do is related identification, which if anyone has ever needed to go on a remote camping trip, is important for knowing what may be around or may even be troublesome.

If the team does make it to state, which Central’s team has done before, the contest can be held in a number of locations.

“They try to match it up with a location that relates to the main project,” said Jim Mesik, coach. “One year I had them all the way up in Northwestern Minnesota, almost to Canada.”

While the contest itself is important, it’s not the only reason to be there.

“They bring in actual experts from government agencies and organizations to put stuff on,” said Mesik. “Shows a bit of the career aspects of it, too.”

A few of the current students have expressed a want to study wildlife further, according to Mesik. Some have even gone onto study marine biology and more specific fields in the wildlife vein.

Despite Carver County having several FFA groups, this Envirothon group is the only one in the county. Part of the reason is the challenge to fit it into a schedule. Since there’s a lot of outside time, weather has to cooperate and the students need to have time to invest.

For anyone interested in giving the Envirothon a try next year, Mesik stated that the team was mostly new this year, and “they had a blast”. While it’s a lot of work, he said that interest in the outdoors is all that’s required.

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