The 2020 Florida Envirothon was done a little differently this year due to COVID-19. We, the board of the Florida Envirothon, decided that high school students were missing out on too much this year due to the home sequestering and social distancing. We also all agreed that the environmental competition is valuable enough for us to step out of our comfort zones and go digital! For many of us, learning how to take an in-person competition that has been going on for over 20 years and turn it into an online competition took a lot of time, ingenuity and a fast learning curve, but we knew it was worth it. The 10 teams that competed were very thankful – especially the handful of seniors that have competed all four years in high school and didn’t want to miss out on their last year. We also received comments of how great it was to have some normalcy in their lives – even though it was done so differently. All in all, it was a better turnout than we expected on such short notice. The advisers/teachers that helped make this happen for their students really need to be commended. They had to not only step up to the plate with their everyday classwork, but also work with us on the logistics of the online version of the Florida Envirothon. To all you teachers going above and beyond – you are amazing!!! Teams first had to compete in their regional events – thank goodness most were done before the statewide shutdown. The winning teams from the participating counties were able to compete in the state-wide event. Normally the winning team would represent Florida at the NCF international Envirothon in July/August, but they weren’t sure of what would be happening with COVID-19 and decided to cancel this year’s week-long event. Here are counties and teams that participated along with any awards they won.
Duval – Banana Men – Current Issue topic awardees
Indian River – The Carsonites – Aquatic Biology topic awardees
Lee – Force of Nature
Manatee – The Green Gang – Soil & Land Use topic awardees
Miami-Dade – Symbiants – 3rd Place Winners
Pasco – The Green Party – Wildlife topic awardees
Sarasota – Demetrios – Oral Presentation awardees
Union – Hexcellence – Forestry topic awardees
Volusia – Advancing Glaciers – 1st Place Winners (reining champs two years in a row!)
One county is not allowed to be mentioned, but they did win 2nd place!
All participants were mailed participation certificates. Teams that won an award were mailed certificates for their achievements along with 1st place receiving a $200 check, 2nd place a $150 check and 3rd place a $100 check. All participants were also mailed a special Gone Digital theme t-shirt for participating in this year’s competition. We also couldn’t have done it without the volunteers. Although it wasn’t done in-person and we didn’t need as many volunteers as usual, we still needed help in grading tests and scoring the oral presentations. Some of the slide presentations were phenomenal! The board members’ organizations that make this event possible are Science Eye, Environmental Conservation Organization, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – Forest Service, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, retired Soil & Water Conservation. The volunteers were from Jacksonville Museum of Science and History, South Florida Water Management District, Manatee County Government/Ag and Extension Service/partnering with NRCS, University of Miami – RSMAS, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. It may not have been an ideal situation, but it was a great experience, wonderful turnout and an uplifting event under the circumstances. Congratulations to all who participated for another event well done!
For more information on the Florida Envirothon and how you can create a team for your high school students to participate at a regional event, go to www.flenvirothon.com.
Written by Dawn Miller-Walker, Florida Envirothon President