Young minds tested on environmental knowledge in popular Envirothon

Hundreds of high school students converged on Possum Creek MetroPark on Tuesday, April 24 to participate in the Area IV Envirothon that tests their knowledge of natural resources in Ohio.

Teams of five students from school districts in 18 southwest Ohio Counties completed tests on subjects including soils, wildlife, forestry, aquatics and a current environmental issue: Western rangeland management.

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"We're excited to host this in Montgomery County. It's been 25 years since it's been in our county," said Kristen Lauer, education and information specialist for the Montgomery Soil and Water Conservation District, who co-hosted this year's competition with Linda Raterman, information/public relations specialist at Miami Soil and Water Conservation District.

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“One of the great things about Possum Creek is that it’s almost the sampler platter of habitats,” added Mike Osborne, regional park manager for Five Rivers MetroPark. “We’ve got prairies, woods, riparian forests and aquatics. So, it allows a nice wide spectrum of what they can experience out here.”

Spitting rain and muddy paths didn’t dampen the students’ enthusiasm. They came prepared for the conditions as they examined trees dead and alive and sampled soil from a three-foot-deep trench.

Retired Franklin High School teacher Paul Ostermann got students involved with the Envirothon beginning in 1990. He described the effect this competition had on some of his students.

“We’ve got an awful lot of kids who have gone into the field…everything from elk guides to environmental lawyers, soil scientists, and a mining engineer,” Ostermann said. “This was the primary motivation for me to get kids involved. Getting kids to understand connection between the world and what happens when we don’t take care of the world around us.”

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Teams who win the Area IV competition can advance to the Ohio Envirothon in June for a chance at advancing to the National Conservation Foundation Envirothon in Idaho.

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