(Waterford Works, NJ–May 11, 2019) Four students, mentored by Dr. Shelly Witham, participated in the 2019 New Jersey Envirothon, “Agriculture and the Environment: Knowledge & Technology to Feed the World,” and placed 8th overall in the state in this highly competitive event held at Great Times Day Camp, announced Dr. Joseph Giammarella, Principal of High Tech High School.
Field experience funded by a generous donation from the HCST Foundation prepared the students for the New Jersey Envirothon competition, where high school students pursue in-depth knowledge about New Jersey’s natural resources and gain skills needed to navigate the complex environmental issues of today and tomorrow. Guided by Dr. Witham, students trained all year for the competition, using online study guides and attending in-person training workshops provided by natural resource professionals from various sponsoring organizations.
Areas of competition include Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife, Team Presentation and a Current Environmental Issue. One week prior to the event, students receive an environmental issue or real-life scenario for which they must: (1) explore the natural resources, implications, and stakeholders involved; collaborate to devise a solution; and offer a team presentation to a panel of judges on the day of the competition.
The students, Dakota Hatcher, a freshman from Harrison, Sarah Bacha and Zhixiu Zheng, seniors from North Bergen, and Rebecca Rosas, a senior from West New York, formed the High Tech team that placed in the top ten in four of the six stations: 3rd place in Current Issues, 3rd place in Forestry, 3rd place in Soils, and 5th place in Team Presentation.
Along with several other teams, High Tech students elected to camp at the site the night before the contest. Many students and teachers return each year not just because of the competition, but due to the camping and camaraderie that they experience at the Envirothon. As a special treat, Smokey the Bear joined in the closing ceremonies. Smokey, who celebrates his 75th birthday this year, has become an American icon since his creation by the U.S. Forest Service. Since 1944, Smokey has been working hard to inspire Americans to prevent wildfires.