Envirothon What's Involved

What is an Envirothon competition?

It's a warm spring day and the bright green foliage of new leaves is reflected in the stream's surface.  On the stream bank, a group of students collaborate to answer questions about water quality.  Nearby, their competitors are studying pelts and animal tracks to determine the correct answers to a wildlife quiz.  Beneath the trees, other young people identify leaves as part of a forestry competition.  The Tennessee Envirothon is an environmental competition that encourages stewardship of natural resources through group interaction and brings students into the outdoor classroom.

The Envirothon, usually held in city parks, state parks or natural areas, is a national competition for high school students which challenges their knowledge of five subjects:

    • wildlife
    • water quality
    • forestry
    • soils
    • current environmental topic which changes each year 

It's purpose is to promote greater awareness of natural resources and to heighten students' understanding of the interrelationship between plants, animals, humans and the environment we share.  The competition provides students with experience in environmental activities to enable them to become environmentally-aware, action-oriented adults.

Past environmental topics have included pesticide management, non-point source water pollution, acid rain, groundwater and greenways and land trusts for family farms.  Winning Tennessee teams have been privileged to compete in states like North Carolina, Idaho, Nebraska and Maryland. 

Each year, the winning teams from each region travel to a designated location in middle Tennessee for competition on a state level.  From there, the state winning team will advance to the national competition.  After competing in separate quizzes in each of the five categories, students must answer a comprehensive question involving all five topics.  The comprehensive question is included in both the state competition and the national competition.  Students are given resources such as books, pamphlets and videos to study both before and during the state competition to come up with the most effective solution to the problem introduced in the comprehensive question.  They will develop and deliver their presentation orally, using audio or visual aids if necessary.

Pennsylvania was the birthplace of Envirothon in 1979.  Tennessee became involved in 1993, when the Clinch-Powell Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council introduced the competition to students in five counties in northeast Tennessee.  Since then, the competition has grown to include 72 counties covered in the ten RC&D Councils across the state.  A contract with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Nonpoint Source Program has allowed the competition to become statewide over the last several years.

The Envirothon teaches students to view their environment as a dynamic, integrated system and encourages comprehensive system management as a team.  This also encourages team-building, fosters an awareness of our place within the ecosystem and of our dependence upon all elements of this system.