Toronto School top team at 2016 North American Envirothon Championship

53 Teams from the United States, Canada and China tested their environmental problem-solving skills during the four-day competition hosted by Forests Ontario

TORONTO, July 29, 2016 /CNW/ - Forests Ontario is pleased to announce that Ontario are the 2016 North American Envirothon (NAE) champions, besting nearly 50 other teams from across North America. Over the course of four days, students engaged in a series of challenges that tested their skills and knowledge of natural ecosystems. The winners received a cash prize from sponsors Smithfield Foods. University of Toronto Schools (UTS) represented their region of Ontario where they won their local Envirothon competition. Second place was awarded to Penncrest High School from Pennsylvania and the top three of the competition was rounded out by Palisades Charter High School from California. Complete rankings of all participating teams are available at the North American Envirothon website.

Envirothon is a team-based competition for high school students who love the outdoors. Every year, 60,000 students participate in local competitions to build knowledge in core environmental topics (forests, soils, wildlife, and aquatics) through hands-on learning led by professionals in each field. Students then complete a series of tests and challenges centered on addressing environmental challenges with the top team progressing to the NAE. This year's competition also included a component on invasive species.

The 2016 NAE was hosted at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Students had opportunities to network with Trent faculty and local environmental professionals.

"The reason we wanted to be involved in Envirothon is because each generation needs leaders who will find new innovations and solutions for addressing challenges to our ecosystems and finding new ways to sustainably manage our ecosystems for important benefits like human health and economic growth," says Barry Birch, Chair of the National Conservation Foundation (NCF)-Envirothon Operating Committee. "Envirothon's emphasis on teamwork, critical thinking, and hands-on learning helps students build the foundation to be tomorrow's environmental leaders."

"The students find Envirothon highly engaging thanks to the authentic problems, hands-on skills, and real life contexts. They love meeting other youth from different regions: they have so much fun with cultural exchanges about everything from politics to types of candy," remarks Elizabeth Straszynski, Envirothon teacher and advisor to the UTS team. "As an educator, I value the quality of the resources, expertise on training days, and the competition that integrates knowledge, skills, planning, written and oral communication. The competition puts students in a unique situation where they interact with – and have to impress – experts who specialize in the testing topics, and this challenge provides a fantastic opportunity for growth. Suddenly environmental issues are more than course components; they provide career choices, to viable professions based on the student's ethical beliefs and sense of justice."

"The Envirothon program exposes students to valuable knowledge and sets the stage for careers in the environmental sciences," comments Alex Bartel, Envirothon teacher and advisor to the team from Holton High School in Holton, Kansas. "During the competition students engage their math, science, teamwork, and communication skills, but also learn about the career options are available. I'm sure every student is now aware of ten different jobs that they had no idea existed and is aware of new courses of study they could pursue at the college or university level."

Forests Ontario congratulates all the teams and hundreds of students who joined us at Trent University for the 2016 NAE. We also wish to express our gratitude to the sponsors and supporters who made the program possible along with volunteers and program leaders who made the NAE a valuable and memorable learning experience for all participants.

To learn more about Envirothon, including details to get involved and support this incredible program, visit the program's official website.

About Forests Ontario
Forests Ontario is the voice for our forests. Working to promote a future of healthy forests sustaining healthy people, Forests Ontario is committed to the re-greening of Ontario through tree planting efforts on rural lands and in urban areas, as well as the renewal and stewardship of Ontario's forests through restoration, education and awareness. Visit www.forestsontario.ca or follow @Forests_Ontario.

About NCF-Envirothon
NCF-Envirothon is a hands-on, environmental problem-solving, leadership development program that includes a competition involving high school students annually throughout North America. Participating teams complete training and testing in five natural resource categories: soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife and current environmental issues. The program combines in-class curriculum and hands-on field experiences to provide a natural resources encounter for students. For more information on this exciting program visit www.envirothon.org.

SOURCE Forests Ontario

Image with caption: "Team from University of Toronto Schools (UTS) received top prize at North American Envirothon hosted by Forests Ontario at Trent University in Peterborough. UTS represented Ontario at this high school environmental education competition. (CNW Group/Forests Ontario)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160729_C3317_PHOTO_EN_744385.jpg

For further information: Media Contact:, Jeannette Holder, Communications Manager, Tel: 416 646-1193, ext. 257; Cell: 416-522-8140; E-mail: jholder@forestsontario.ca

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