Abundant, affordable healthy food is current issue
LEOMINSTER — For the past school year, high school students across the commonwealth have been studying current and future prospects for growing, harvesting, and distributing food in their own home communities and across the Commonwealth.
They’ll present their findings at the 32nd annual Massachusetts Envirothon competition on Friday, May 17 at Sholan Farms in Leominster, Envirothon officials said in a news release.
The approximately 200 students from 29 Massachusetts communities will also test their knowledge of the area’s soils, forests, water, and wildlife as part of the competition.
The participants include students from 4 H Cows and Clover Club, Berkley; Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School; Bristol County Agricultural High School; Brockton High School/Wildlands Trust; Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech High School; Oliver Ames High School, Easton; Plymouth South High School; Rockland High School; Somerset Berkley Regional High School; and Southeastern Regional Voc Tech, South Easton.
At this outdoor field event, teams will rotate through four “ecostations” where they will answer written questions and engage in hands-on activities such as soil analysis, wildlife habitat assessment, tree identification, and water quality testing, according to the news release. Each team will have up to 10 participants and will split into specialized sub-teams during the competition, each focusing their efforts at different ecostations.
At the fifth station, the Current Issue, each team will give a 15-minute presentation on “Abundant, Affordable Healthy Food” to a panel of judges. Teams have been researching the Current Issue in their own community in preparation for their presentation, organizers said. Each panel of judges includes concerned citizens and environmental professionals from government agencies, non-profit organizations, academia and private industry. Teams were asked to explore current and future prospects for growing, harvesting, and distributing food in their own home communities and across the Commonwealth.
“These teams work hard getting to know their local ecosystems and how their communities depend on them. We test their scientific knowledge, but we also like to hear their stories about how they have gotten muddy, cold, and tired, and otherwise had fun and fallen in love with nature in their neighborhood,“said Kelley Freda of the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Division of Water Supply Protection and Chair of the Massachusetts Envirothon Steering Committee, in the release.“The best hope for the future comes from engaged, scientifically literate citizens who care about their communities and the environment.”
Freda went on to say that the Envirothon “is more than just a competition about environmental knowledge. Many teams have taken what they’ve learned and put it to work in an action/service project in their community.
“The program aims to prepare the next generation for the stewardship work that needs to be done. And this annual competition actually becomes a festive gathering of the environmental community of Massachusetts where students learn from the environmental professionals and the environmental professionals learn from the students.”
The overall winning team will have the opportunity to represent Massachusetts in the North American Envirothon, which will be held July 28 to Aug 2 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The 2019 Massachusetts Envirothon is made possible through the contributions of partnering agencies and organizations, including financial support from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, the U.S. Forest Service, the Massachusetts Grange, Environmental Business Council of New England, Wegman’s supermarkets and local conservation districts, the release said.
Fifteen federal and state environmental agencies, conservation districts, non-profit organizations, higher educational institutions, and businesses provide expertise and help organize the event. Dozens of volunteers will also be on hand on May 17 to handle all the event logistics from setting up tents, tables and chairs, checking-in teams, serving food, scoring tests and cleaning up.
For more information on the Massachusetts Envirothon visit www.massenvirothon.org.
Other participating schools include Acton Boxborough Regional High School; David Prouty High School, Spencer; Deerfield Academy; Doherty High School, Worcester; Fitchburg High School; Innovation Academy Charter School, Tyngsboro; Leicester High School; Lexington High School; Malden High School; Millbury Jr./Sr. High School; Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School, Fitchburg; Newton North High School; Newton South High School; Norfolk County Agricultural High School, Walpole; Pioneer Valley Regional School, Northfield; Quabbin Regional High School, Barre; Reading Memorial High School; Shepherd Hill Regional High School, Dudley; and Springfield Central High School.