The 2018 Washington State Envirothon Competition was held in Conconully, Washington from May 23rd – May 24th. This competition challenges students to step into the shoes of natural resource professionals in the fields of: wildlife, soils & land use, forestry, aquatic ecology, and an annually changing current issue. In 2018, the current issue is Western Rangeland Management: Balancing Diverse Views, perfect fit for Okanogan County. Eight teams from schools all over the State showed up Wednesday afternoon to get settled into their cabins. These students were the winning teams in their counties at their Regional events. Late that afternoon, the Kuchenbuch’s, a local ranching family affected by recent megafires, came to give a presentation to the teams about how they reacted to wildlife, and kept their ranch alive. Nicole Kuchenbuch, a former teacher in the Okanogan School District, led the presentation, with her oldest son and husband helping along. Her family has been ranching land near Conconully for generations. The students got a taste of the difficulty of ranching, along with how to cope with natural disasters. This presentation really hit with the Oral Presentation Scenario for this year, where kids had to make advice for a ranching family that recently lost rangeland to fire. After dinner, the students had free time to explore, play some ball games, and go over their oral presentations.
Due to a recent water pipe leak at our camp’s kitchen, we walked over to the Community Hall for all our meals. Luckily, Conconully is a very small town located amongst National Forests and reservoirs, making the scenery very enjoyable. We were lucky to have local caterers, the Dawghouse and Shannon’s Café, give us such great sustenance.
Even after being an Envirothon kid at one point in time, I am still in awe of the amount of work these students put into this competition. With nerves and slight anxiety, these high schoolers still wanted to learn more, explore, and were genuinely happy to be there together. This competition not only teaches students about natural resources, but it teaches them about comradery and teamwork. Many Natural Resource professional devoted their time to help make this event possible, including professionals from multiple Conservation Districts and Associate Supervisors, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), United States Forest Service (USFS), Washington Association of Conservation Districts (WACD), United States Fish & Wildlife (USFW), Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group (CCFEG), and Methow Restoration Council (MRC). For the second year in a row, Okanogan High School won the competition, also getting highest scores in Wildlife and Rangeland Management. Ingraham High School came in second, 28 points behind Okanogan. SAMI team (Science and Math Institute of Tacoma) came in third, just one point behind Ingraham. Exams were triple checked by a score keeping team to be sure! Thank you to the Washington State Conservation Commission for helping with the funding of this rigorous event!
I cannot say thank you enough all of my volunteers and teachers for all of your help to make this competition go as smoothly as it did. It takes one person to lead the way, but an army of people to make something happen.
– Chelsea Trout, Education Specialist, Okanogan Conservation District