Nearly 15,000 students from approximately 700 schools representing all 67 counties are expected to participate in this year’s Pennsylvania Envirothon. The long-standing environmental competition for high school students has received a $300,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
The competitions focus on five key topics: soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and a current environmental issue that changes annually. Amanda Witman, spokeswoman for the DEP, said the Envirothon is a great way for students to get involved and become aware of environmental issues.
“This is a program that the department recognizes is doing a lot of good for the commonwealth’s young people to educate them about environmental science and about the possibilities of future environmental careers,” Witman said.
Each team is comprised of five members and led by volunteers and/or teachers. Lorelle Steach, Program Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Envirothon, said each school can apply for up to $600 to help with training the team advisors and other program development workshops through a mini-grant program.
“The money won’t go directly out to the high schools that participate in the Envirothon. However, part of the funding in this grant will enable us to do teach workshops for all of the teachers who are involved with the Envirothon,” Steach said.
The grant will provide funding for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years. Steach said it is too early to determine whether future money will be provided after the June 2014 expiration. “We’re hoping we can continue this same funding—will still have this same funding available, however, we won’t know that until the 2014 year,” Steach said.
The Pennsylvania Envirothon began in 1979 as the Environmental Olympics and the first national competition was hosted in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1988. 45 other states around the country and nine Canadian provinces host competitions each spring.