Thursday, May 29, 2014
For the fourth straight year, Randolph Central School’s Team #1 took first place in the 2015 Cattaraugus County Envirothon, held on April 29th at Allegany State Park. Led by advisor Ms. Pat Walker, Randolph will now advance to represent Cattaraugus County at the 2015 New York State Envirothon at Hobart & William Smith Colleges in Geneva on May 27th and 28th. Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central’s Team #1 placed 2nd, and Allegany-Limestone Central’s Team #1 placed 3rd in this year’s event. Hinsdale Central’s Team #2 placed a very close 4th, missing the 3rd place spot by only one point out of a total 550 possible points.
In all, 14 teams representing 9 schools participated in this year’s program. Other participating schools included Ellicottville, Franklinville, Gowanda, Naturally Yours Cattaraugus County Home School Group, and Pioneer. In all, over 70 high school students competed in the program. The Envirothon has been held in Cattaraugus County since 1992.
The Envirothon is the largest conservation education program in North America, and begins at the local level with several schools from each county competing to advance to a statewide and ultimately a continent-wide event. The Cattaraugus County Envirothon is organized by the Cattaraugus County Soil & Water Conservation District.
The Envirothon is an outdoor, hands-on event that emphasizes teamwork, with each participating school sending up to two five-member teams of high school students. The teams compete to test their knowledge of various natural resource related topics, including wildlife, forestry, soils, aquatics, and a current issue topic, which for 2015 was “Urban and Community Forestry". The teams work together to complete exams at five different stations that address these subjects. They may be required to identify various species of trees, wildlife, and fish that are available on display and answer specific questions about habitat and other environmental issues related to the species. They may also aquatic insects or use a soil survey report to evaluate the soils on a given site. An oral presentation on the Current Issues topic is rated as part of the score at the Current Issues station. Scores for the five exams are totaled, and the team with the highest cumulative score wins the competition.
The Cattaraugus County Soil and Water Conservation District pulls together over 30 volunteers, including representatives from various agencies, organizations, and companies who pitch in to help carry out the event. Some of these include USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and US Forest Service; NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation; Allegany State Park; several Cattaraugus County agencies including the Youth Bureau & Public Works; Trout Unlimited; etc. Several individual volunteers also assisted with the program as well.
Funding for the event is provided entirely from contributions received from many local businesses and organizations. Gernatt Asphalt was a primary sponsor of the program in 2015. These contributions are used for providing prizes, T-shirts, reference materials, and refreshments for the participants, as well as reserving the site and sending the winning team to the state competition.