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Charter School of Wilmington team takes second place at 2010 Canon Envirothon

Charter School of Wilmington team takes second place at 2010 Canon Envirothon

Students from the Charter School of Wilmington in Wilmington, Del., took second place and received individual scholarships totaling $20,000 at the Canon Envirothon, North America's largest high school environmental education competition, held in August at California State University in Fresno. A total of 500,000 teenagers participated in the competition, which began at the state and regional level and was progressively narrowed to the 270 teenagers who competed at the national level.

“Winning second place was an unforgettable experience,” said Claire Yang, now a high school junior. “We definitely didn’t expect to get this far!”

The competition was a weeklong, intensive program that involved station testing in five categories: aquatic ecology, forestry, groundwater conservation, soils/land management and wildlife. Extensive knowledge about Fresno’s natural resources was required. Since Fresno’s location in the fertile San Joaquin valley region differs greatly from the Piedmont and coastal plains regions found in Delaware, this made the competition even more of a challenge for the Delaware team.

Students were tested in each area and then were expected to create an oral presentation concerning California’s rising water scarcity problem and the subsequent need for conservation of resources. The presentation prompt was not known before the third day of the competition, and students were then given eight hours to make a 17-20 minute presentation along with three posters. No technology or outside help was allowed; the rooms were highly supervised.

“The element of surprise in regards to coming into the competition without knowing the oral presentation topic was both exciting and nerve-wracking,” said Karthik Siva, now a high school junior. “But overall, it was a welcome challenge.”

The team presented in front of a panel of regional experts in the areas of groundwater conservation and Fresno land usage. They were judged on content, clarity and speaking ability. Scores from all five field tests and the preliminary oral presentation were then calculated to determine the top five teams. The top teams then redid their presentations in front of the panel and the entire group in the CSU Fresno auditorium.

While the week itself was a whirlwind of activity, the students spent countless days studying before the competition. They spent three days a week throughout most of the summer training in each topic area and its relevance to the Fresno region while juggling summer jobs and summer courses.
“It was definitely hard to stay focused during the summer,” said Neelima Agrawal, now a freshman at Northwestern University. “Since the competition doesn’t start until August, we devoted a large chunk of our summer in preparing for the competition.”

The competition wasn’t all studying and testing, however. The team was able to meet and befriend many students from all over the continent.
“I definitely enjoyed meeting a variety of people, all from different areas and backgrounds, some of whom I still keep in touch with,” said Mitali Desai, now a freshman at the University of Delaware.

As the competition drew to a close, the students were grateful for the opportunity to participate. It allowed them to spread awareness about the environment, especially the importance of the precious resource known as groundwater. Groundwater provides 97 percent of the world’s drinking supply, according to the United States Geological Survey, and is constantly at risk of contamination due to widespread pollution. This competition seeks to bring environmental stewardship to the forefront by stressing the significance of public awareness and has clearly made an impact on these students.

“The Canon Envirothon was a learning experience, one that forced us to look past the superficiality of modern life and bring attention to the importance of resource conservation around the globe,” said Christine Kurian.

Article by Christine Kurian
Photo by Deborah Logan/Creative Expressions


Editor's note: This article was written by members of the CSW Envirothon team. For another account of the competition, please see the DNREC press release.