Earlier this week I was schooled on all kinds of environmental instruments. I learned that a clinometer helps measure the slope of a piece of ground while a basal area factor prism helps to estimate forest density. And that wasn’t the end of it.

Fourteen teams of high school kids from schools around the state were studying soils and skeletons and focusing on forestry and water at the Iowa Envirothon competition held at Springbrook State Park near Guthrie Center.

In its eighteenth season, the Envirothon is the state championship of natural environment knowledge. The students hike around the park, answering questions about wildlife, aquatics, soils and forestry. In addition, they also offer a presentation that attempts to solve an environmental concern or issue. This year, teams addressed a scenario related to livestock, grazing and long-term management for absentee land owners.

If the students are good, their team finds its way to the national competition held Bozeman, Montana, this summer. I quickly learned that I was nowhere near prepared for the contest.

Triple-dipping the water sample cup (that’s MY technical term for it) is the best for testing water? I had no clue. Luckily, these students trained harder for the contest than I, having already made it past the district competition to earn their places in the state contest. One team started preparing in September for the contest—talk about digging the environment!

The students’ hard work didn’t go unrecognized.

“Seldom do I get the opportunity to address a roomful of such conscious environmental individuals,” Pat Schlarbaum of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources told students. “You’re the best hope for the future, and anything you can do to implement some of these conservation practices that you’re learning around the state is going to make a brighter tomorrow for all of your families and for the generations to follow.”

And that’s something even I didn’t have to study for to recognize.

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation has been a long-time supporter of Iowa youth and the Envirothon. To learn more about the Iowa Envirothon, go to www.cdiowa.org/envirothon.html.

 Written by Bethany Pint.
Bethany is an Ag Commodities Writer for Iowa Farm Bureau.