Getting Started

There have been quite a few inquiries about the SD Envirothon recently, mostly from teachers/4H leaders wanting more info.

One leader wanted some assistance in getting her team ready. We realize that preparing a team for the SD Envirothon is a daunting task, so the state coordinator put together an email that goes out to everyone who makes an inquiry about bringing a team.

The email is posted below so that everyone has a sense of how to start getting ready for the SD Envirothon.


Thank you for your interest in the South Dakota Envirothon.. Signing up gets you into the “information loop.”

If after looking through this email and the website you decide you would like to participate your first step is to start recruiting students to participate.

Once you have a team together, you let the state coordinator know you are committing to bringing a team. You will be sent a kit with some supplies to help you prepare.

The preparation guide can be found here on our website: On the drop down menu under this tab is a list of suggested learning activities for each of the content areas. There are links on each of the pages that bring you to suggested activities to do to practice.

We strongly encourage teams of two students to become subject matter experts in two of the content areas. They select the activities and in turn present them to the others.

Below each heading are some things to begin with.  If you click on each topic heading, it will lead you to the NCF Envirothon learning guidelines, which link to NUMEROUS videos, diagrams, graphs, documents, and so much more!  There is a plethora of information out there…we are currently working on getting together more “South Dakota” specific resources to post, as well, so  please stay tuned!

Aquatic ecology

Know how to identify macroinvertebrates.

  • Use flashcards in your resource kit.
  • Familiarize yourself with the characteristics as discussed in this ID chart.
  • Do Water Quality, Ask the Bugs! in the Project WET sampler.

Know how to use a LaMotte Dissolved Oxygen kit.

Know how to delineate a watershed.

Know what nonpoint source pollution is.


Know soil forming factors

Know how to do a soil characterization.

Know how to read horizons.

Know how to read a soil survey.


Know how to use a clinometer.

  • GLOBE Clinometer. Note: this style of clinometer is helpful for understanding how the background math produces the reading. Natural resource professionals in soils and forestry will have access to clinometers used in the field by professionals.

Know how to calculate tree height and diameter.

Know how to calculate board feet.

Know how to identify trees (cottonwood, ash, oak, maple, pine) using morphology.

  • Use the Winter Tree Finder book in your resource packet. Start with a known tree and work backwards.
  • Use this Wisconsin Key.

Know your pace.


Know how to ID common animals by pelt, skull and track.

  • Borrow a critter crate from SD GF&P.

Know how to ID common birds by song.
Understand carrying capacity, adaptations, biodiversity, habitat.

Current Issue:  Agricultural Soil and Water Conservation Stewardship

Current Issue Learning Objectives

Key Topics

1.  Soil and Water Conservation best management practices; their purpose and implementation.

2.  How are soil and water conservation best management practices interrelated  to the management of wildlife, forestry and aquatic systems?

3.  How do agriculturists maintain a balance between their quality of life versus   the quality of the environment?


Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the training, the student will be able to:

1,  Identify and recommend soil and water conservation best management practices in agriculture.

2.  Describe the role of the federal government in conservation programs that benefit both agricultural producers and the environment.

3.  Identify the concept of soil quality/health to provide the needed functions for the conservation planning process.

4.  Identify various types of soil erosion and utilize different methods to estimate and predict soil erosion to assess land use impacts.

a.  RUSLE  2  Equation
b.  Aerial Photographs
c.  Topographic Maps
d.  Soil Maps
e.  USDA Classification System
f.  Soil Surveys

5.  Explain why land-use planning is important to our ecosystems and to our economy to achieve sustainable agriculture.

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Online Resources:

The Farm Bill 2014 Programs- Fact sheet describing the conservation programs


RCPP Projects by State-Link to Maryland projects (pdf)

 Farmers Guide to Conservation Stewardship Programs

Conservation Choices for Maryland Farmers

Guidelines for Soil Quality Assessment in Conservation Planning


USDA Guidelines for Soil Health Assessment


Soil Quality Indicator Facts Sheets


USDA official site for RUSLE


Understanding Erosion with the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation


Expanded Resources


Soil Science Management 6th Edition, Edward J. Plaster   (Contact: Delmar Cengage Learning)