PIKE/WAYNE - Skulls, scat and fur was all that area high school students needed to identify various animals during the recent Pike-Wayne Envirothon at the Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center.
The District Manager for the Wayne Conservation District Jamie Knecht said the day was a part of the Pennsylvania Envirothon, which is an educational competition that focuses on aquatics, forestry, wildlife, soils and land use every year. This year, the current issue was about agriculture and watersheds.
The students that competed were from: Honesdale High School, Western Wayne High School, Delaware Valley High School and Wallenpaupack Area High School. Many of the students participate in after school clubs relative to the outdoors and wildlife, while others have a general interest in wildlife and the outdoors.
The winners of the Pike-Wayne Envirothon this year, were the Wombats from Honesdale High School. Now, the students will travel to the University of Pittsburgh to compete in the state competition. If they win that competition, they will go to the North American Envirothon in July in Maryland. The competition, Knecht called “tough” because some schools include the topics in their curriculum.
The competition was created over 30 years ago and it includes freshman to seniors, with many who had participated before. As part of the competition there were five stations, where the teams had to take a test or complete a task. The day concluded with pizza and ice cream with a live wildlife program.
The testing challenged the students’ knowledge about what they were seeing at the center, as well as how to measure trees to determine how many board feet are in a tree. They also identified trees, insects or referenced photographs to identify fish, reptiles and amphibians. At the soil station the students profiled the soils by feeling them and considering their texture. Then, at the wildlife station the students studied the furs, skulls and scat to determine the animal.
There was a wildlife presentation by the Second Chance Wildlife Center, which is an animal rehab facility based in Tunkhannock.
Shane Kleiner, a conservation district field representative for the Department of Environmental Protection for this region, said the state Envirothon includes a world component that requires the students to do a presentation about a current issue. The winning team from each county is given a scenario and then, has time to prepare a presentation at the state Envirothon. Judges, will then ask the students questions.
For forestry, the students used a Biltmore stick to determine how many board feet are in a tree. The board feet, Knecht said determines the value of the tree before it is cut.
From Delaware Valley, freshman Tatyana Gomez said she learned how to measure logs during the Envirothon. The day was fun because she enjoys spending time outdoors. While her teammate, Meghan Kelly liked studying the fish.
One member of the Tree Nuts from Western Wayne High School said if not for the Envirothon, they would not know how to measure trees. Another student said the Envirothon allowed him the chance to gain additional incite about sciences and realize whatever he does for a career someday, will not include working outdoors. From the day, another student said the team learned about building skills and how to compromise with one another.
From the Lumber Quacks of Honesdale High School, Parker Propst learned that timber rattlesnakes don’t have an open season because they’re endangered. While Dominic Vender learned about box turtles and brown bullhead fish. Also, Vender learned about soils and how to read a texture triangle to determine the difference between sand and clay.
Wesley Conklin was on one of the two teams from Wallenpaupack, and he learned about a number of animals and fish he wasn’t familiar with. Gabby Vandunk however, learned how its important to consider what people are putting into the environment because wildlife and forests are affected.