Teams of students from four Perry County high schools and the Carson Long Military Academy spent a beautiful spring morning out of the classroom, enjoying environmental education and competition at the Perry County Recreation Association camp ground along Shermans Creek.
“This year is the 30th anniversary of the Perry County Envirothon,” said Sally Tengeres of the Perry County Conservation District.
Relying on study sheets given to them earlier in the year, about ninety students moved among five test stations, answering questions and earning points under the supervision of wildlife, forestry and conservation experts.
“Most of the critters you have to identify are common,” explained Waterways Conservation Officer, Richard Morder. “You shouldn’t have too many problems with them.”
“Go ahead, hold it,” prompted Morder, handing a garter snake to a slightly reluctant girl. “He won’t bite you.”
One of the more popular stations required students to identify birds and frogs by their sounds played over a speaker. They also had to match certain birds, animals and reptiles with their natural habitats.
“We’re going to ask you forest habitat and to identify the species that you think would go into that habitat,” explained Wildlife Conservation Officer Harold Malehorn as he handed out questionnaires.
Another station required students to measure trees and determine board feet of lumber. And still another found students analyzing soil samples while standing in a four foot ditch.
At every station there were challenging exercises, all with the goal of promoting environmental science education.
“Protecting the environment and improving water quality and our soil health, protecting our wildlife habitat is what it’s all about,” said Tengeres. “And it can be fun!,” she added with a grin.
Many of the students said their interest in a healthy environment won’t end with the envirothon.
“I thought it was a really great learning experience,” said Greenwood senior Hayden Eubanks “I learned a lot about agriculture that I didn’t know before and got to take some tests and see what I needed to look into.”
West Perry freshman Jamie King said she learned a lot about wildlife and habitat she grew up around, but never really stopped to appreciate.
“I never knew how to identify a tree,” she said. “And how to measure its height from the ground.”
“When it comes to natural resource protection there is still a lot to do and a lot more to learn,” Tengeres told the students while judges added up their scores. Team 3 from West Perry High School took top honors at the envirothon and will move to state competition this weekend at Susquehanna University.