Envirothon prepares to solve aquatic problem

The Envirothon team competed in the District Envirothon competition today. This two-part challenge tested students’ environmental skills and knowledge. The group competed against eight other schools and teams.

The first part of the competition took a traditional question-and-answer approach, centering on four main categories: wildlife, streams, soil and forestry.

According to team sponsor Barbara Brown, certain members were chosen to specialize in one of the categories in order to answer more obscure questions.

In order to supplement their learning, the team went to multiple training sessions to hone their skills through hands-on experimentation.

“We’ve [gone] to two training sessions this year. One was earlier in the year and the other was in February,” junior Anna Cheng said.

The second half of the competition focused on a current issues topic: low-impact development.

“The problem centers around a neighborhood, Chesterbrook, which is not too far from [Marshall],” Brown said.

The team had to design a plan that would prevent storm water from draining into local streams or rivers while maintaining average water levels in the community.

“We [were] assigned research questions on run-offs, aquatics [and] soil, to try find a new way to fix the problem,” sophomore Melissa E said.

According to Brown, the team’s solution is a “patchwork quilt” of ideas.

Combining the newer technologies of green roofs and rain gardens with more traditional solutions such as rain barrels and swales (strategically placed dips in the earth), the plan focuses largely on directing water to areas rich with plant life.

In order to impress the Envirothon judges, the team needed a convincing environmental and economic argument.

Cheng compared the preparation with taking “an extra class.”

The Envirothon competition is sponsored by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Results were unavailable as of press time.