BAZETTA - Locating and identifying various tree species and examining soil erosion were among the challenges local middle school students took part in as part of an annual outdoor environmental competition.
The Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District hosted its 12th annual Junior Envirothon at Mosquito Lake State Park campgrounds, where sixth- to eighth-graders spent several hours working on hands-on outdoor learning tasks at five stations.
Kelly Hardval, education coordinator with Trumbull Soil and Water Conservation District, said 10 teams were tested in categories of soils, forestry, aquatics, wildlife and this year's environmental topic - wetlands.
Hardval said teams met professionals from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, Forestry, Parks and Recreation and Soils as well as independent environmental educators.
''The day's activities combine hands-on learning with spending time in the outdoors. The result is an effective tool to help nurture environmentally aware students," she said.
This year included 55 participants from Champion, Mathews, Mineral Ridge, Bristol and Warren's McGuffey School.
"This is an outdoor academic competition where students working as teams cooperate and test their skills in learning about soils, water and wetlands,'' Hardval said.
Teachers and volunteers helped at the five ecostations set up in the park where there were specific questions and tasks the students needed to solve.
She said the TSCWD hopes the middle school level will help get more students at the high school level involved in an Envirothon that would include competing for scholarship money.
Bristol eighth-grader Lindsay Malcolm and the five members of her team said they have learned about the different types of trees and the wetlands found in the park.
For their activity, Malcolm said they had to find and name different trees.
''I was expecting a lot of hiking and using a lot of science,'' she said.
Tyler Dempsey of Bristol said he learned where to find things in different environments the park.
Champion seventh-grader Arianna Killing said their school has competed before at the Envirothon, but new teams and new schools were involved this year.
The Champion Middle School students selected to take part are involved in the school's science club and scored well on state science tests.
Bethany Delgarbino, a sixth-grade science teacher from Baker Elementary School, said the students from the Mathews school have taken part for many years and share their knowledge with the other students when they return to the school.