Envirothon Making Environmental Education Fun


Kendra Biermann

Envirothon members canoe to collect water samples and learn about the clarity and movement of the water.

Gordon Tuomikoski, Editor-in-Chief

Hoping to teach and encourage people to protect the environment, the National Conservation Foundation’s Envirothon program helps students to achieve just that. GCHS members include seniors Grant Ramsay, Zach Zielstra, Gavin Bierman, Creighton Deitchler, Logan Miller and junior Hayden Hoffman.

“Envirothon combines in-class and hands-on environmental education in a competition setting which involves a problem-solving presentation as well as written field tests,” said Envirothon Advisor Kendra Biermann, who has been advising Envirothon for twelve years. “The competition tests students on five core subjects: aquatic, forestry, soils and land use, wildlife, along with a fifth annually-changing subtopic which focuses on relevant environmental issues.“

Members compete amongst other schools in two competitions. The first is a regional competition held in March in Red Oak, and State is held in April in Des Moines. Members must complete tasks to win.

“At the state competition, the students are given hands-on tests to complete,” said Advisor Biermann. “Students must collect water and perform water quality tests and determine the correct answers through the testing. They also walk into a soil pit and must answer questions based on the observation and feel of the soil.  These are a few examples.”

After the competition was canceled last year due to COVID-19, the group is making efforts to protect against the virus.

“Last year, the competition was canceled the week before testing,” said Advisor Biermann. “This year, we have been meeting outside and keeping distance between each other.”

Zielstra enjoys the lessons and awareness that come with Envirothon.

“It makes you a better person when it comes to nature,” said Zielstra. “You have a greater knowledge of what’s happening all around you.”

Gavin Biermann appreciates the education and hands-on learning that Envirothon members engage in.

“I enjoy the hands-on learning that takes place,” said Gavin Biermann. “We get lectures on aquatics and how to perform water quality testing, what can cause fish to die, the water cycle, groundwater and biologic monitoring; soil sampling and slope, how to test soils and make soil ribbons; problems with invasive species; we even get to learn how to use a prism to count trees in an area.”

If choices aren’t impacted by COVID-19, the six Envirothon members will compete in a regional competition at Red Oak next March.