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2010 Envirothon: Student Q&A

This August, the following students from Chilliwack Secondary School in British Columbia, Canada, will be attending the Canon Envirothon at California State University in Fresno, California: Connie Williams (teacher), Lois Shellard, Mathew Dickey, Chantelle Neufeld, Connor Ford, Alyssa Zucchet and Amber Brown. Kidzworld got to interview all of the students – check out the Q&A below!

What is Envirothon?

Envirothon is a hands-on environmental problem-solving competition that raises awareness about the environment and tests student's knowledge and ability on various environmental topics including soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife and one current environmental issue. The theme of this year’s Envirothon is Protection of Groundwater Through Urban, Agricultural and Environmental Planning. Winning teams advance to the Canon Envirothon for an opportunity to compete for scholarships and prizes.

How did you/your school get involved?
Chilliwack Senior Secondary School has been involved in Envirothon for 4 years, but the school’s offered an Environmental Club for the past 6 years. Our AP Biology/Biology 11 Honours teacher inspired us to be green!

What did you do to prepare for Envirothon?
We spent a day in the Cheam Wetlands and identified plants, tree heights and learned how to test water. We also worked through a lab booklet and each specialized on different topics: Water, forestry, mapping, soil, and wildlife.

What was the toughest thing you had to do during the competition?
The toughest thing we had to do during the competition was complete a 15 minute skit presentation that incorporated every component of what we learned. We had just 2 hours to create the presentation, so this was VERY stressful for us!

What was the most interesting thing you learned from the competition?
It was interesting to learn about the different characteristics of plants. For example, did you know that red elderberry contains cyanide? We also discussed how the water table of the bog affected those organisms living in and around it.

Why do you think kids should take more of an interest in the environment?
Because it's cool! As residents of B.C., we have one of the most diverse ecosystems and we have such a variety of plant life everywhere. It is nice to be able to identify unique and rare plants like the licorice fern, which actually tastes like licorice!

What do you think is the most urgent/important issue facing our environment today?
Human developmental plans in urban areas are an urgent issue facing our environment today. Construction and development is destroying ecosystems causing a loss of diversity and forcing wildlife out of there homes. This is impacting all of the forest animals living there!

What kinds of things do you do in your own lives to help protect the environment?
In our school, we support a recycling program to reduce our schools environmental footprint. Last November, we also planted over a thousand native plant species in our watershed. This is a favourite activity of ours.

Can you give some easy tips to kids on how they can help protect and save the environment?
The simplest and most effective thing you can do to help protect the environment is recycle! This reduces our environmental impact and allows us re-use the stuff we recycle. Not littering is another way of protecting the environment as litter is harmful to plants and animals and can be poisonous as well. Our personal favourite way to conserve the environment is to plant trees! Planting trees reduces the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and provides habitats for many animals.

When you grow up, do you plan to enter careers that may let you further protect the environment and spread awareness about environmental issues?
Yes, Connor is interested in pursuing a career in the protection of endangered species, Lois is pursuing a career in nursing, Chantelle wants to be a marine biologist and Matt wants to keep on planting trees!

Get Involved!

If you want your school to get involved in Envirothon, visit the official website at www.envirothon.org.

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Humans are creatures of habit, and I was no exception. Every Wednesday before classes started, I drove to my favorite coffee shop and ordered a cappuccino. I would sit in the same booth, and drink my coffee for the few minutes I had while the world rushed by. It was the same every time, and I never expected it to be different, until one day I saw a new face appear: an older man of unclear age, who sat in the booth across from me. I thought nothing of it. Why would I? It was merely another person I would probably never see again, or if I did, never remember. But I did see him again, next Wednesday. I still didn’t think much of it. Maybe he was just… a new regular. He didn’t matter to my life. Several weeks passed, and I increasingly began to notice the man in the booth across from me. He wore old clothes that looked well cared for throughout the years, and a hat with a faded emblem that I couldn’t read. The daily paper was always with him, except for the times when he brought a tattered journal, reading and sometimes writing in it. The thing that began to stick out the most over those weeks, though, was that he was always alone. No one ever talked to him except the barista to ask what he wanted (it was always a small, black coffee with two spoonful’s of sugar). After all those weeks, I finally worked up the courage to sit with him and introduce myself. I liked him from the moment he opened his mouth. I eventually learned he was a WW2 veteran, with several medals from various battles. We exchanged stories, I from college, and he from the war. After an hour, I finally realized how much time had passed and had to dart away, but we met again the next Wednesday. We became good friends, but our friendship was limited to phone calls and coffee shop visits. I didn’t know much of his personal life other than stories of his school days. I didn’t really wonder at all, until one day, a familiar face didn’t come. I was worried, though not too much. I simply had my coffee then went to classes. As the day went on, I was increasingly uneasy. He never, not even once, had been MIA. Then I got the phone call. It was a voice I had never heard, a doctor: my friend had suffered a heart attack and had given the nurse this number. He wanted me to come. I immediately left campus without a second thought, and when I arrived at the hospital, his doctor greeted me in front of my friend’s room. “Your father is certainly lucky to survive.” “Oh, I’m not his son.” I waved off the notion. “Really? Oh… You were the only number he gave us. Odd.” This stuck with me. I was the… only one. I was finally let in, and he was barely awake. Sitting down, I took his hand. “Are you sure there’s no one else you want here? Don’t you have any family?” He coughed out a chuckle. “No, kiddo. They’ve all been gone a while. I hope you don’t mind me pulling you away from your classes…” “No! I… I want to be here for you…” “By the way, the coffee here’s terrible. Would you mind going to pick up my usual?” “Small… black coffee with two spoonful’s of sugar.” And we both softly chuckled while I blinked away tears.     Befriend a veteran today.  
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