Fort Defiance team does well in Envirothon

Fort Defiance High School Envirothon team members (left to right) included Zack Gurkin, Anna Shuttle, Lauren Tabor, Marissa Lubkowski and Megan Wagner. Coached by Brent Hull and Eric Stogdale, the team placed seventh overall in the North American competition.

More than 270 high school students from 45 U.S. states and nine Canadian provinces assembled July 24-29 in Sackville, Canada, to participate in North America’s largest high school environmental education competition, the 2011 Canon Envirothon. Having placed first during May’s Virginia State Envirothon competition in Mechanicsville, Fort Defiance High School moved on to the national competition, where the team was sponsored by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District.

The students spent countless hours studying environmental issues and resource conservation in preparation for this event. The competition tested teams on knowledge of soils/land use, forestry, aquatic ecology, wildlife and this year’s current issue, “Salt and Fresh Water Estuaries.”

The environmental championship culminated a series of competitions that began during the past school year and involved over 500,000 teenagers throughout North America. In written tests and oral presentations, five member teams from schools and organizations competed to represent their state/province at the Canon Envirothon.

Each team’s knowledge was tested under the supervision of foresters, soil scientists, wildlife specialists and other natural resource professionals. Teamwork, problem solving and oral presentation skills were evaluated, as each team made recommendations for solving an environmental challenge to a panel of judges.

This is the 18th year Virginia has participated in the Envirothon Program.

“The success of the statewide event and the achievement by the Fort Defiance High School team in particular, would have been impossible without the generosity of our sponsors, teachers, students, volunteers and judges,” noted Beth Sokolik, the VASWCD education and training coordinator.

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about starting an Envirothon team at your high school or through 4-H, FFA, an ecology club or home school group, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District or VASWCD’s Beth Sokolik at or 1-800-727-6354. More information regarding Envirothon can be found at

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