Local News

Okanogan High School Team Takes on International Competition

Aug 04, 2017

The Okanogan High School’s Envirothon team competed in the North American Envirothon in Maryland the last week of July. The team secured their spot by first winning the North Central Washington Regional Envirothon Competition, hosted by Okanogan Conservation District in April, and then taking the top spot at the Washington State Envirothon, hosted by King Conservation District in May. There was high drama at the state event as the results came in- the team knew they had scored first or second on several of the tests but the scores were very close. Judges said that when they didn’t receive third or second, the team assumed they had placed out of the top three. Instead, they heard “Okanogan High School takes first!”, and erupted in cheers (and tears of joy from retiring teacher Kathleen Ferguson).

After the school year ended, the team met once a week with their teachers for four-hour study sessions. We commend them for their dedication during this out-of-school time. The team placed 48th out of 54 teams from the United States, Canada, and China. While disappointed, the team members and advisors had a rewarding experience learning and competing in Maryland. They are already planning to win state again next year so they can be even more competitive at the 2018 North American Envirothon in Idaho! The Okanogan Conservation District is incredibly proud of their efforts and looks forward to supporting the 2018 team. We would also like to thank the Washington State Envirothon Committee for their generous financial support of the team’s registration and travel to the 2017 competition in Maryland.

Okanogan’s team is made up of students in the Ecology of the Okanogan science elective. The class is a joint effort of Okanogan High School, Okanogan Conservation District, and Colville Confederated Tribes Fish and Wildlife, with support from many other natural resource groups in the county. Students are immersed in a salmon recovery project at Woody Island, and are responsible for collecting data used by fish biologists to manage the project. The remainder of the year-long class is structured around the planning principles used by conservation districts: soil, water, air, plants, animals, and humans (SWAPAH). Preparation for the regional Envirothon event is built into the curriculum as pre- and post-tests for each of the SWAPAH units. Students report that this class has increased their awareness and understanding of career options in natural resources. Several graduates are now pursuing degrees in natural resources at both community and 4-year college levels.

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