Students enjoy Envirothon

By BOB COUPLAND

Tribune Chronicle

BAZETTA – Area middle school students learned about how invasive species can affect the environment during the 15th annual Junior Envirothon at Mosquito Lake Park campgrounds.

Sixth- to eighth-grade students from Bristol, Brookfield, Joseph Badger, LaBrae and TEACH, a home-school group, went from station to station learning about and being tested on soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife and the current environmental topic of invasive species and their environmental impact.

Kelly Hardval, education coordinator for Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District, said the activities involved hands-on outdoor learning with professionals from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Division of Soil and Water Resources, The Ohio State University Extension Office and environmental educators.

Hardval said the Envirothon combines the concept of spending time in the outdoors and creating environmentally aware students.

Scott Angelo, wildlife officer / supervisor with the Division of Wildlife, was leading one of the learning stations. He said his group manages wildlife species in Ohio, which includes protecting species and allowing for seasonal hunting of species when those populations increase.

“We work to protect all wildlife species that we are in charge of,” Angelo said.

He said one rare and federally protected species, a Massasauga rattlesnake, was found locally and kept at the park until picked up by Ohio State University officials.

”When some species reach a certain level, they can become a nuisance and damage the environment and can be hunted as a management tool,” he said.

Hardval said, ”This is a place to find many invasive species,” noting zebra mussels from Lake Erie can affect wildlife in the water.

Brooke Polon, 13, a seventh-grader from Joseph Badger, said they groups of five to six students looked at soils and were able to get into a ditch to see different soil levels.

”It was fun to go to different locations and then answer questions,” she said.

Mateo Fenn, 13, Joseph Badger seventh grade, said they found iron and clay in the soil.

LaBrae Middle School sixth-grade science teacher Cory Hinzman said this is the second year LaBrae students competed. They were this year’s winning team.

“In class we are talking about life science, cells and classifications. I do bring into class discussion wildlife and forestry,” he said.

Lee Beers, OSU extension educator for agriculture and natural resources, said invasive species come to an area where they may cause harm to other living creatures and affect the food chain.

He said emerald ash bores attach to trees and bore into the bark and do damage, taking sugar and water, letting larvae eat the bark. Also, Asian longhorn beetles cause damage to plants and other vegetation.

bcoupland@tribtoday,com