PARRY SOUND - Five Parry Sound High School (PSHS) students are heading to St. George, Ontario, later this week to compete in the Ontario Envirothon Championships.
Last month the group, representing the Parry Sound, Muskoka and Haliburton regions tested their environmental smarts at the regional Envirothon competition and won a spot at the provincial championships.
Held at the Onondaga Farms, the team - consisting of Grace O’Brien, Graham Browning, Jaye Krause, Sam McKernon and Sarah Latimer - was full of nervous excitement before they left Wednesday.
Each of the students is an expert in a different field - wildlife, soil, non-point source pollution and low impact development (the hot topic this year, which changes annually), forestry, and aquatics.
“We went to Arrowhead (Provincial Park) where we went off to different stations in the forest to write tests on the topic at that station, as well as provide essays describing solutions to problems in the area and a practical task, such as determining the breed of trees in the forest and monitoring forest health,” explained Graham in an email of the regional competition held April 18. “For the current issue we performed an oral presentation about possible green changes that could be made to high school.”
On Thursday all competition participants will work on a Legacy Project, said PSHS vice principal Dawn Buckland, such as tree planting, or path-building, something to the betterment to the area.
Friday the competition begins with each student tested in their expert field.
“Saturday morning you’re handed a four page document and get four hours to prepare a presentation,” said Buckland to the students Monday morning. “And you have someone actually in there making sure you don’t use any electronics. Then you hand in all your presentation materials at the end, go for lunch, then you have to present. In the afternoon you watch the top three present. The cool thing is they get to compete as a team. Although they become an expert in one field, they work together as a team.”
Grade 9 student Sarah Latimer is an expert on soil, not the most exciting of the five topics she joked. She said she is excited and nervous for the event.
“It took me 11 hours to read the binder,” Sarah said of studying and learning about soil. “I’m excited for the overall experience.”
Grade 11 wildlife expert Sam McKernon said he’s also thrilled to be going.
Grace O’Brien had been to the provincials once before, in Grade 9, when she went as a substitute for a student who couldn’t make it to the event.
“I’m really excited. There’s a big group of people who are interested in the same stuff you are,” Grace said. She’s also looking froward to seeing the presentations by the other teams.
Grade 12 student Graham Browning is the expert on the hot topic, he said he’s looking forward to the presentation aspect of the competition.
“I’m definitely excited to go, not just the hot topic facet of it, but also because I enjoy wildlife and helping what little I could with forestry. I’m totally useless when it comes to soil and aquatics,” he joked. “It’ll also be nice to have more than 20 minutes to prepare an oral presentation, which is something new.”