Congratulations to the 2016 SD Envirothon Winners!

Before we announce our winners, a few words of thanks are in order.

Thank you to our sponsor Smithfield Foods for your generous contribution in support of the next generation of natural resource managers.

Thank you South Dakota State University for hosting our event.

Thank you to the judges, proctors and volunteers who put in time, often quite a bit of it, to make this event a success.

Thank you to the coaches and parents who helped and supported in a myriad of different ways.

And most of all, thank you to all the participants who put forth the effort and stepped out in trying something new. We salute you.

Now on to our winners!

Congratulations to the 2016 South Dakota Envirothon Winners: Tripp/Gregory 4H!

The five member team took top honors and were also the high scoring team in soils and wildlife.

First Place Winners

2016 SD Envirothon Winners Tripp/Gregory 4H L to R: Savannah Vogel, Sydnie Peters, Cody Amidon, Kayleb Brozik, Avery Gilchrist, coach Laura Schwagel.


Congratulations runners up Grant County 4H  who were the high scoring team in forestry, aquatic ecology and the current issue test.

Runners Up group

2016 SD Envirothon Runners Up Grant County 4H. L to R: Antonia Block, Kylie Mogen, Danielle Kasuke, Jared Storms, Katie Mogen, and alternate Ethan Bohn.

Congratulations to Alcester Hudson 1 for their exceptional presentation, shown here wowing the judges Aquatic Invasives.


We are already planning for the SD Envirothon 2017. Plan to be there! (During the spring break week of SDSU).


Announcing the Current Issue Challenge!

Teams! This is your challenge. Prepare the following to bring to the SD Envirothon. Your poster will be displayed and you will have to meet “the public” (aka judges).


The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Park is seeking to increase compliance with a law to slow the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS). Your team is responsible for developing an outreach effort that will be used at a booth at an outdoor recreation show.


  1. Develop a poster. The poster should describe ANS and explain why it is a nuisance. The poster should also explain the laws.
  2. Develop an “elevator speech” that can be given by any team member that explains the poster to the recreation public.
  3. Develop “take home swag” with messaging to hand out. Note: you do not have to actually buy your give aways. A representation is adequate.
  4. Be prepared to answer questions from people who are resistant to the idea or don’t understand.

Envirothon DDN Training

Now that we are past the holidays, Envirothon preparation is beginning in earnest.

To help our students and teachers prepare, we are setting up a DDN training for Monday, Feb 1, 2016 from 4PM CST – 5:30PM CST.

If you would like to participate, please complete the form below by Monday Jan 25. Coaches, students, and steering committee are welcome


SD Envirothon News

A few updates about the SD Envirothon before the big holiday break.


1.      I will be sending out another package of resources for teachers who have signed up for the 2015-2016 SD Envirothon. Registered teachers will receive a copy of Teaching About Invasive Species as well as a printed out copy of the Invasive Species Study guide put together by this year’s host . 

2.      The national Envirothon site updated its study guide web pages. I have updated the SD Envirothon online study pages as well. Please let me know if you find any broken links.

3.      I sent out a mailing to all the science departments in the state. Please feel free to invite your colleagues as well as ag and natural resource teachers to coach a team. There is still time to sign up!

4.      The current issue challenge will be released at the end of January. This year’s format will be modeled on doing a poster at a conference.


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)


2016 SD Envirothon: Friday, March 11, 2016 at SDSU

The 2016 South Dakota Envirothon will be held Fri. March 11, 2016 on the SDSU campus.

Teams of five high school students test their knowledge and skills in five areas: soils, water, forestry, wildlife and a current issue which this year is invasive species.

The winning team will go on to the North American competition which this year is in Ontario Canada.

This year’s event will be a single day event, tentatively going from 9am-5pm. The current issue presentation will be a poster session. Teams must come prepared with a poster explaining their solution to a challenge that will be issued by January 29th.

Register here:

For more information, contact Anne Lewis 605-224-8295.

South Dakota Envirothon News

The South Dakota Envirothon is moving back to late April. We hope you will be able to send a team!

The location is to be decided but we will make it central. We are also looking at making this a one day event.

Though some of the logistics are changing, some things will stay the same. Stipends for one adult leader, travel funds and substitute fees (schools only) are still provided!

Professional Development for Teachers

Teachers  can participate in a GLOBE professional development opportunity that will help prepare them to prepare an Envirothon team as well as enrich classroom instruction with real world science/natural resource studies.

GLOBE is an international science education project sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation that involves students in monitoring and reporting data on local hydrology, soils, atmosphere, land cover and earth systems.

The South Dakota Discovery Center is offering several several opportunities summer 2015 in GLOBE:

  • June 22-25. GLOBE. University of Sioux Falls. 2 credits (workshop or renewal). Please register through the University of Sioux Falls website.
  • June 26-29. GLOBE on the River. Pierre. We will spend one day in the classroom and 3 days/2 nights in the field doing GLOBE field studies, primitive camping and kayaking. The trip is outfitted so the only thing you have to bring is your personal effects and a sense of adventure. (Please register through the GLOBE website.)

As a GLOBE trained teacher,

  • Your Grade 6-12 students can collect and report data that will be used by scientists and NASA missions to better understand our world.
  • You can earn a stipend as a mentor and model GLOBE Lead Teacher.
  • You join with thousands of other teachers around the world who are using hands-on, inquiry based instruction.

If you have questions or want information please contact Anne Lewis.


GLOBE Training for Envirothon Leaders

Envirothon participants in South Dakota will have new opportunities to prepare for Envirothon, thanks to GLOBE an international science education program sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation. The South Dakota Discovery Center and Outdoor Campus West in Rapid City are partnering to bring  GLOBE to South Dakota.

Anne Lewis, South Dakota Envirothon coordinator, says groups that use GLOBE collect data, participate in field campaigns, and can do research.

“GLOBE is a huge international project that has students doing real science”, says Lewis. “And one of the strengths of Envirothon is solving real world problems. This is an excellent opportunity for sponsors to help prepare their teams to participate in Envirothon while strengthening their science literacy.”

GLOBE participants set up a study site where they monitor soils, water, atmosphere, land cover and seasons. Lewis stresses that sponsor do not have to do all the protocols. “However, it is no secret that many of the hydrology, soils and forestry protocols used in the South Dakota Envirothon are straight from GLOBE.”

Lewis says that a workshop for teachers and Envirothon sponsors will be held in June. Registration information will be posted to the South Dakota Discovery Center’s website in early January 2015.

“GLOBE will add a lot to South Dakota Envirothon,” Lewis says. “It’s an exciting project.”


Teachers analyze a soil sample using GLOBE protocols.

2014-2015 South Dakota Envirothon Winners

The FFA team from Lennox won the 2014-2015 South Dakota Envirothon. The five students competed at NeSoDak near Waubay Oct 2, 2014. photo

The students are (left to right) Molly Kroeger (Junior), Alyssa Becker (Senior), Brady Jandl (Junior), Brady Klock (Junior), Levi Buckneberg (Senior). Alternates Matthew Bruns (Senior) and Isaac Burma (Senior) also participated. Team adviser is Jim Wilson.

The team competed in knowledge and skills pertaining to aquatic ecology, soils, forestry, wildlife and forestry. They also competed in this year’s current issue Community Forestry by taking a test and giving a short presentation.

The presentation addressed the hypothetical restoration of their community forest after an ice storm damaged 30%-40% of their community forest. The teams were given the full scenario about 10 days before the presentation so they could do background research.

The teams were also presented with a “mystery challenge” at the Envirothon, a last minute topic that had to be included in the presentation. The teams were told they had to address the looming threat of the Emerald Ash Borer in their restoration plan.

Winning the South Dakota Envirothon qualifies Lennox to go to the North American Envirothon July 27-August 2 in Springfield, Missouri.

The South Dakota Envirothon is sponsored by the 319 Information and Education Project via the South Dakota Discovery Center and the Conservation Commission.

Additional support was provided by

  • The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources
  • South Dakota Department of Agriculture
  • South Dakota Department of Game Fish and Park
  • East Dakota Water Development District
  • South Dakota office of the Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • Day County Conservation Service
  • South Dakota Geographic Alliance
  • Spearfish Forest Products