By Sally Voth
Area high school students can tackle environmental challenges during a contest this month near Stephens City.
The Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District Envirothon Contest is scheduled for March 20 at Sherando Park. Joan Comanor, a district director from Woodstock, is a big fan of the competition.
"Many of the Soil and Water District Board members volunteer to help at the different stations, and then some of our partner organizations like Fish and Game, and Forestry also help," she explained.
During the competition, teams of at least five people will visit five field stations where they will be given an environmental issue to resolve, according to a news release from Rebecca Webert, the district's education and information coordinator.
Team members can come from high schools in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties, as well as Winchester, or from home school clubs,Scouts, 4-H and similar groups.
Each team must have at least one coach or chaperone, according to the release. This year's topic is "Sustainable Grass and Pastureland Management: Achieving a balance between Traditional Agricultural Uses with Non-Agricultural Uses."
Comanor said she thought the contest is wonder for a variety of reasons.
"It focuses on the local environment when we have the stations on forestry or fisheries. The kids visit, learn about local trees, or what's swimming in the river and the soils in our area, so that's exciting, and it supplements what they learn in school," she said. "The part that I personally really enjoy is where the students have to work as a team and come up with a solution to an environmental problem."
Each member of the team must have a speaking role, which builds communications skills, Comanor said.
"I think it's really, really good background and training for whatever they choose to do later after they graduate from high school," she said.
The winning district team will compete at an area contest in Raphineon April 25, with the top three teams there going on to the state contest in May, according to the release.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org