For 25 years, teacher Tony Kietrys has been coaching teams of students from Wallenpaupack Area High School in preparation for the Pike/Wayne Envirothon. Fellow teacher Linda Lohner has served as co-advisor for most of those years.
Their efforts, and that of their team, the Green Revolution, culminated in a sweep of many of the awards earned at the April 27 event, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Also celebrating 25 years of dedication to Envirothon is Wayne Conservation District Manager Robert Mueller, who was presented with a plaque by Wayne County Commissioners Wendell Kay and Anthony Herzog. “What makes the event the best is you kids,” said Mueller, as he accepted the award.
The educational competition for high school students is designed to test their knowledge, skills and problem-solving capabilities regarding the earth’s natural resources. Wayne and Pike county conservation district staff coordinate the day-long event. The local competition sets the stage for the 2011 Pennsylvania State Envirothon on May 24-25, which will take place at Susquehanna University and Shikellamy State Park.
Students compete in a series of stations that they have prepared for throughout the year: using field guides to identify tree species and wildlife, learning to recognize various bird calls, consulting soil surveys and conducting research on topics, such as this year’s theme on estuaries. Defending their winning ways from last year’s event, the Green Revolution placed first overall, but also garnered first-place awards in aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife.
Members of the Green Revolution enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, biking, boating, geo-caching and “creeking,” which simply involves wading in and exploring creeks. All of them are seniors and bound for college.
Kietrys is the advisor to the Environmental Activities Club and an avid outdoorsman, who enjoys horseback riding, hiking, skiing and helping the students prepare for the competition. “I teach science, so it’s my calling,” said Kietrys. “And the students inspire me.”
The students meet weekly throughout the year and during the past month at least three times per week. “I had no doubt they were going to pull it off,” said Kietrys. “They work really hard. Bird calls is probably the most difficult of all and they do really well at that.”
The Green Revolution team will represent Pike County at the state level and Kietrys anticipates a good outcome there. “It gets tough at states because everyone’s a champion, but they always do really well,” he said. Wayne County will be represented by the Platinum Platypi team. The statewide winning team will represent Pennsylvania at the 2011 Canon Envirothon, North America’s largest environmental competition, which takes place July 24-29 in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada.
The Pennsylvania Envirothon partners with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the PA Fish and Boat Commission, PA Game Commission, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resource Bureaus of Forestry and State Parks, the PA Department of Environmental Protection, the PA Department of Agriculture and the PA Department of Education. The partners provide educational reference materials as well as technical expertise, knowledge and assistance at the event. Students also heard about Lackawanna College’s new Ecological Sustainability Program and potential career opportunities.
For more information contact the Pike County Conservation District at 570/226-8220 or the Wayne Conservation District at 570/253-0930.