The Department of Environmental Protection has awarded $300,000 to support the Pennsylvania Envirothon, which educates high school students about natural resources and environmental science through competitive events around the state.
“I’ve been to the Envirothon and I’ve seen how it has a unique way of making learning fun through competition,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “These young adults are the promise for our future and we are proud to support this effort, which promotes a future of conservation and protection of the environment.”
The Envirothon, originally called the Environmental Olympics, originated in Pennsylvania in 1979. In 1988, the program became known as the Envirothon and Pennsylvania hosted the first national competition in Carlisle, Cumberland County. Since then, the Pennsylvania program has grown to include nearly 15,000 high school students from 700 schools in every county.
The competitions are focused on five areas: soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife and a current environmental issue, which changes annually.
Envirothon teams are made up of five members and are led by volunteer advisors and teachers. The volunteers train the students in hands-on environmental problem-solving, with the goal of succeeding on the county, state and national levels and winning awards, prizes, scholarships and bragging rights.
The grant is being provided by DEP’s Environmental Education Fund and will be used through June 30, 2014, to develop regional workshops for Envirothon coordinators and educators; facilitate county, state and national competitions; and begin a mini-grant program for county conservation districts.