A program with the objective "to increase student's awareness
of the environment, ecosystems and the natural balance and complexity
of these systems" could get to be very boring for young
people. But not the way the Manitoba Forestry Association goes
They're meeting this objective through a program called Envirothon. The
1999 event attracted 70 students from a dozen schools
to Spruce Woods Provincial Park. The teams engaged in a competition
to test their knowledge forests, soils, aquatics, wildlife and
current environmental issues.
It took a lot of advance planning to make the Manitoba Envirothon
as successful as it was. Meetings of the Volunteer Steering Committee
were held at regular intervals throughout the fall and winter,
and once a week as the Provincial Envirothon approached. The
Committee was responsible for all aspects of the competition,
including test writing, designing and ordering of t-shirts, transportation,
working with Canadian Forces Base Shilo to provide accommodation
and food and as the site for the Orals, booking Spruce Woods
Provincial Park for the trail testing component, and finding
volunteers for the multitude of jobs to be undertaken during
Members of the Logistics and Test Writing Teams were at Spruce
Woods Provincial Park on Thursday, May 27th setting up the test
trails. A large tent was put up at Kiche Manitou, which became
home base for the trail testing and other activities during the
The 12 teams that participated in the competition included
Arthur Meighan High School, Portage la Prairie; Crocus Plains
Regional Secondary School, Brandon; Edward Schreyer School, Beausejour;
Fort Richmond Collegiate, Winnipeg; Gimli High School, Gimli;
Maples Collegiate, Winnipeg; W. C. Miller Collegiate, Altona;
Pembina Valley Conservation District Environmental Youth Club;
Powerview, (Manitoba Model Forest), Shaftesbury High School,
Winnipeg; Swan Valley Regional Secondary School, Swan River;
and Vincent Massey Collegiate, Winnipeg.
On Friday, May 28 the teachers and students boarded highway
buses to transport them to Spruce Woods Provincial Park. At 10
a.m. students and teachers participated in training stations
at Kiche Manitou during which they received information on various
aspects of the Envirothon topics: forestry, soils, water, aquatics
and fire management. Trail testing began at 10:30 a.m. with 14
teams, including two teams of alternates. Trail captains and
their assistants were responsible for keeping time and assisting
During the afternoon teachers participated in a workshop delivered
by Mike James on "EcoAction 2000 Community Action Initiatives".
Several teachers described environmental projects in which they
and their students were already involved. There was a good discussion
and the session ended with Mike James promising to visit the
individual schools in June and/or September.
Dan Bulloch of Manitoba Natural Resources met with the teachers
later in the afternoon to discuss the trail testing process,
and offered them the opportunity to tour one of the trails so
they would be more familiar with what the students had been asked
The Honourable Glen Cummings, then Minister of Natural Resources, spoke briefly at the Friday evening dinner and presented the
Envirothon with a cheque for $ 500 to sponsor breakfast the following
morning. Bob Buck, Fire Management, Manitoba Natural Resources,
gave an informative presentation on "Fire", followed
by a presentation by Allen Tyrchniewicz, International Institute
of Sustainable Development, on "Climate Change". Students
were advised that any information from these presentations could
be helpful during their preparation for Oral Testing the next
On Saturday, instructions concerning the Oral Testing were
given to the competing teams, including times they should report
to prepare and present. The 12 competing teams (with alternates)
were then sequestered for 3 hours to prepare their presentations.
During the afternoon teachers were invited to meet with Dan
Bulloch for a debriefing session. Dan received valuable feedback,
which will be of assistance in preparing for next year's testing.
Each team had the opportunity to review their notes for 1/2
hour prior to their presentation. Three panels of judges, teachers
and alternates from that team, and a small audience of MFA staff
and volunteers listened as one team after the other presented
information on the special environmental topic: Fire Management.
Teams were limited to 10 minutes, during which time all team
members were required to participate in the presentation. An
additional 10 minutes at the end was devoted to questions from
Once the first series of presentations was completed, the
entire group moved to the Base Theatre, where at 4 p.m. the four
finalists were announced. They were Fort Richmond Collegiate,
Winnipeg; W. C. Miller Collegiate, Altona; Vincent Massey Collegiate,
Winnipeg and Swan Valley Regional Secondary School, Swan River.
The entire group of judges participated in selecting a winner
The testing committee and judges completed their final tallies,
and determined the winner of the Provincial Competition. Swan
Valley Regional School took First Place.
The winning team from Swan Valley Regional School.
Fort Richmond Collegiate placed second, and Vincent Massey
Collegiate came in third.
Swan River went on to represent Manitoba
at the Canon Envirothon in Arcata, California in late July. In competition
with over 40 teams from across the U.S., they tied for 8th place, by far
the best a Canadian team has done in this event.
In 2000, the Manitoba Provincial
Envirothon Competition will be held from the evening of May 25th through
May 27th, 2000, with activities at 17 Wing Canadian Forces Base in
Winnipeg, and at Oak Hammock Marsh.