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Southmoreland, Mt. Pleasant students go for the green in Envirothon

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 7:48 a.m.
Marilyn Forbes | For the Daily Courier
Students from Mt. Pleasant spent time in the woods this week during the Westmoreland Envirothon. From left are Chad Gradisek, Joey Paul, Tim Hostetler, Brittany Frye, and Jessica Stuchell.

As a way to generate interest, respect, and knowledge of the world around them, the Westmoreland Conservation District held its annual county Envirothon this week.

Students from Southmoreland and Mt. Pleasant participated.

Students from all over the county were invited for a fun day of education and hands-on learning, dealing with numerous topics that pertain to the environment.

“This is the only program that we do for young adults,” Tony Quadro of the conservation district said. “We target mostly adults for our educational programs, and this is something that we can do for the young adults in the area.”

The students visited five testing stations where they participated in demonstrations, then were tested on what they learned at the site and before the event.

Students spent 30 minutes at each station.

Stations this year included aquatics, forestry, wildlife, soils and grazing.

“We did something a little different this year and added a sixth station which is purely educational,” Quadro said. At that station, conservation district employee Dan Griffith provided a talk based on local animals that graze such as llamas, sheep and cattle.

The topic is different every year and is determined by the state that will host the national Envirothon — this year's host is Montana, which suggested the grazing topics.

The other stations have remained the same but the content has changed.

“The test is pretty much the same but we do have changes for those students who are repeat participants,” Quadro said. “The tests are developed at a state level and then local agencies have some input.”

The Envirothon focuses on environmental issues that are emerging or on which awareness is becoming more prevalent.

“We changed our testing site this year to make it easier,” Quadro said. “It actually worked out well because in the area that the students are now testing are ash trees, and the students can see the effects of the emerald ash borer, which is something that will be new to them.”

Students were given preparation packets in advance, but many learned even more from the event itself.

“I learned a lot today about the environment,” said Mt. Pleasant student Tim Hostetler, 18. “It's been a fun experience.”

Quadro said the conservation district was pleased to have an increase in teams this year. Seventeen teams from nine school districts participated.

“This is a great way for these kids to compete in an area other than athletics,” Quadro said. “This is a great comprehensive learning experience for them on environmental issues.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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