Alumni Spotlight

Jordan Daigle, Maine

Recently, we caught up with NCF-Envirothon Alumni - Jordan Daigle, Maine
Jordan is currently at Harvard University, majoring in Engineering Sciences with a focus on Chemistry. Jordan is interested in how engineering can positively impact the environment. In the future, he wants to work in the field of water purification.
How did you get involved with Envirothon? I got involved with Envirothon because of my mentor in high school. He had been my teacher in middle school, and he recommended that I get involved with Envirothon. He had always given me great advice, so I joined!
How were your experience with Envirothon?I attended the Maine State competition all four years of high school, and I attended three international competitions: Ontario, Maryland, and Idaho.
Interested in the environment how/when did your interest start? My interest in the environment stems from my family. I would go fishing with my brother, father, and grandfather in some of the most pristine areas of Maine, near Mt. Katahdin. If you are ever lucky enough to visit Northern Maine, you would immediately understand why I became interested in environmental science. I am grateful for where I grew up, and I believe everybody should be able to enjoy nature in its purest form.
Are there any skills that you learned through Envirothon that you currently /continue to use? Absolutely. Of course, there are a lot of technical skills that I use in my classes, but I firmly believe that the skill I use the most is the way that Envirothon trains you to think. The problems in our world today are not one dimensional-- they are complex issues with no clear solution. Therefore, being able to think about creative solutions that are good for the environment, are economically feasible, and are good for society is critical for making any progress in issues such as climate change and water pollution. Being able to view a problem from more than just your point of view is not just helpful in a helpful in an academic sense, but also in the workplace and in society.
What do you think students gain from participating in Envirothon? I believe that if you fully immerse yourself in the Envirothon experience, you will gain problem solving skills, communication skills, presentation skills, a deep appreciation for the environment, and make connections with leaders in conservation.
Do you think Envirothon is a valuable program? Why? Of course! It will take you places that you would never go, it allows you to meet extremely intelligent and passionate people, and it teaches you about the natural world, business, much more. In fact, it was so valuable to me that I wrote about Envirothon in my college application essay.
All in all, did you enjoy your Envirothon experience? Yes! In high school, Envirothon was the most fulfilling extracurricular that I participated in. I love that Envirothon is a team activity, as you become very close with your teammates. The people are just one of the reasons that Envirothon is fun, but there are plenty of other reasons such as the swap meet and the field trip day.
Jordan Daigle Maine
Isabella 3

Isabella Goodchild-Michelman, South Carolina

Recently, we caught up with NCF-Envirothon Alumna - Isabella Goodchild-Michelman, South Carolina.

Isabella is currently studying Molecular and Cellular biology at Harvard University with the eventual goal of becoming a biological engineer.

How were your experiences with Envirothon? I have been to 3 South Carolina State Competitions and 2 International competitions (Idaho and North Carolina)
Your interested in the environment how/when did your interest start? My grandma has always been very passionate about environmental protection and so starting from when I was very little she ensured I had an appreciation for the environment and an understanding that it needs to be protected.
How did you get involved with Envirothon? My chemistry teacher Mr. Wilder (who went on to also be my AP Chemistry and AP Environmental Science teacher) invited me to join our school’s team in the 10th grade.
Are there any skills that you learned through Envirothon that you currently /continue to use? Envirothon has taught me so many things! From very concrete skills like conducting a soil survey or being able to identify 40+ tree species to more general skills such as leadership, teamwork and presentation ability, I have learned so much over my three years of envirothon and I know I will use many of the skills I learned as I continue into college and the workforce.
What do you think students gain from participating in Envirothon? By participating in Envirothon students will gain a much deeper understanding of our natural world than they could solely from the classroom. The presentation component of the competition will give students valuable research, teamwork and presentation experience. Additionally, Envirothon exposes students to a variety of careers involving environmental protection and allows them to engage with professionals from these fields.
Do you think Envirothon is a valuable program? Why? Climate Change is increasingly becoming a threat to the welfare and happiness of people around the globe and our generation is the one that needs to come up with answers to fix it. Increasing awareness of environmental issues in students is one of the most important ways we can begin to address climate change and Envirothon is a program that does just that; by getting students excited about protecting the environment, Envirothon is helping to create a brighter future.
All in all, did you enjoy your Envirothon experience? Envirothon was one of (if not the most) meaningful extracurricular I did in high school. I would not be the student (and future scientist) I am today without it.

Stephanie Tolar, Durham, North Carolina - Envirothon Alumna

From a young age, I was always curious and excited about nature. Envirothon helped me to develop that interest into a passion for ecology. I followed this passion throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies, and eventually, this passion became my career. I was involved in the Envirothon program throughout middle school and high school.
I competed with my team at the international level twice, representing the state of North Carolina. During these years, I spent countless hours poring over study materials, quizzing my teammates, getting my hands dirty in a soil pit, debating eye socket placement on animal skulls, tromping through streams to find macroinvertebrates, and measuring basal area in my local forests. I was steeped in both the theoretical and practical knowledge of the natural world. I loved all of it. I loved reading about a concept in my Envirothon manual and then seeing it in real life on my next hike in the woods. I was inspired and challenged by the competition, going on to university to do research and study ecology.
When I arrived at university, I discovered that the depth and breadth of my knowledge was much more extensive than that of my classmates. I was able to tie in so many experiences from Envirothon, and it made my undergraduate degree a richly rewarding experience.
I also used the scholarship money that I had earned at the international competition to fund a study abroad trip to the Galapagos Islands, where I spent a summer studying marine ecology and local conservation efforts in Ecuador.
I still wanted to learn more. I went on to pursue a Master’s Degree in Biology, specializing in science education and ecology. Envirothon had inspired me to share my love of nature with others, and I became an environmental educator. I have worked in formal and informal teaching settings, both in the classroom and in the field.
My journey has come full circle, and I now serve as the NCF-Envirothon Education Specialist.

-- Stephanie Tolar
Seth Hardin

Seth Harden, Frankfort Indiana - Envirothon Alumni

When you land in your dream job and get deep into the daily tasks, you often forget to reflect and consider just how fortunate you are. In the constant inertia of project management, I often take my role for granted. I have become one of those conservation professionals who does real science outdoors and get paid to do it.
But, it is so much more. I lean upon the skills and training I learned in Envirothon daily. I also use my Envirothon experience as a proxy for when I engage with students in the field. I remember the energy of the competitions and the topics that widened the eyes of my teammates and peers from across the continent. I consider which members of my audience may just take their professional cue from what I say, demonstrate, or explain. I consider this a noble task and why I am passionate about the sustainability of the Envirothon competition and experience.
I can say with confidence, if it hadn’t been for the Envirothon competition, I wouldn’t be working for the The Nature Conservancy, the largest non-governmental environmental organization on Earth. I owe the Envirothon experience sincere lifelong appreciation and commitment.

-- Seth Harden

Dr. Emily Moberg, Pennsylvania Envirothon Alumni

Envirothon was the best experience of my high school career and set the stage for my future work; I also met some of my closest friends through Envirothon. This competition provided an introduction to ecology, highlighted the importance of environmental health for society, and challenged me to assimilate new knowledge quickly. I learned how to apply that information and present it to others. I pursued applied environmental science in my undergraduate studies of Environmental Engineering at MIT, and in my doctoral studies in Biological Oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (which is suspiciously similar to my Envirothon category--aquatic ecology!)
I now work as a Research Lead Specialist at the World Wildlife Fund on greenhouse gas impacts within agriculture. In this work, I often think about different types of ecosystems and how interventions will affect both the ecosystems and the people living and using the land. The science I learned from Envirothon is still useful to me everyday!

-- Dr. Emily A. Moberg

ErinHines (1)

Erin Hines North Carolina Envirothon Alumni

Erin Hines grew up in Envirothon, participating throughout middle school and high school in the North Carolina (NC) Envirothon competition (NC holds a middle school Envirothon in addition to the high school program). Her team’s commitment and drive led them to winning the state championship three times, earning them the chance to compete in three NCF-Envirothon international annual competitions. “The scholarship money we earned from the competitions supported us in our educational pursuits beyond high school. Five of us received full scholarships to NC State University, and all but one of us chose natural resource careers including environmental studies, biological and agricultural engineering, soil science, geology, and parks and recreation. All of us have said Envirothon was a major influence in our choices.”
Today, Erin is an Environmental Educator for the Gaston County Soil and Water Conservation District, serves on the NC Envirothon committee and has this to say about the Envirothon, “As a program, Envirothon has what it takes to be extremely effective in influencing adult environmentalism, including extended duration, adult mentors, and time in nature. So here I am, throwing my weight behind this exceptional educational experience, and thanking all who make it possible.” "


Where are they now? ... Ryan Ling, Pennsylvania

District Forester – Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) When people ask me why I chose a career in forestry, I always answer without hesitation the same two reasons, “Scouting and the Envirothon.” Like most rural Pennsylvania kids, I spent most of my time as a youth with my brother and friends fishing, playing sports, participating in scouting, climbing trees and doing all the things little boys do while exploring the great outdoors. As I entered high school I still spent much of my free time outdoors playing sports, hunting and fishing. So when some of my friends floated the idea of having an Envirothon team at West Branch Area High School, I was absolutely on board. I didn’t know at that time what an Envirothon was, but anything that was outdoors and a competition was something I could get behind. So we studied and prepared our team; The Environ-Mentals, for the Clearfield County Envirothon."



2012 Envirothon, members of the Kodiak, Alaska and Newfoundland, Canada team meet up!

Michaela Pye (Newfoundland & Labrador) … " I’m doing an exchange year at University of Alaska Fairbanks, where Hannah is doing her degree and Lachlan just so happened to be stationed in Fairbanks with the military!

We thought it was a pretty neat thing. We all met at Envirothon in Montana (2012) and joked about visiting each other one day, I guess the time has come! Envirothon has facilitated so many lifetime friendships- it's pretty special! "

Katie Stump Maryland Envirothon Alumni

Katie Stump, NACD’s Northeastern representative and policy specialist, grew up competing in Envirothon competitions in Maryland.
In a few words, Envirothon is a quiz bowl competition that is held at the county, state, and international levels. The student teams typically are formed and supported by high schools, but can also be created by Girl Scout or Boy Scout troops, 4-H clubs, or other youth organizations.
Full Media Release

Pennsylvania

I now know better than to think the Envirothon Legacy is over for me as I move forward in my career. And I hope that I have convinced you that this moment is, in fact, just the beginning of where your Envirothon experience can take you...
~ Michelle Henry, Pennsylvania

Missouri

No question, Envirothon imparts essential skills and opportunities for school and work. But its a lot more than that... my Envirothon team is a family. I worked with them, traveled with them, ate with them, competed with them. And seeing all those families--rural, urban; prep, public, or homeschooled; all different socioeconomic backgrounds, from dozens of states and provinces and territories--seeing all of them come together at an Envirothon tournament is pretty special.
~ Riley Sloan, Missouri

Manitoba

Envirothon is such a powerful program that engages students and gives them so many tools in life that are going to make them future stewards of our environment and leaders in society.
~ Rick Wowchuck, Teacher/Advisor Manitoba, Canada

Nova Scotia

Envirothon has helped me in many ways in high school life. First, it has helped me conquer my fear of being in front of a crowd and helped me devleop my self esteem. Envirothon heled me unserstand other things in my classes, aslo gave me a better understanding of TEAMWORK.
~ Whitney Gould, We'Koqma'q First Nations, Nova Scotia, Canada

Nova Scotia

The Envirothon program has given me knowledge that I have been able to use throughout my studies at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS. It has shaped the way I thought about my future career as well as my passion for the environment. I am currently completing my final year in Environmental Science at SMU and am looking forward to completing my Master's Degree in Geography.
~ Christa Skinner, Envirothon Alumna Nova Scotia, Canada

New York

My experience with the Envirothon competition has been very beneficial for me, educationally as well as financially. In addition to learning extensive amounts of information regarding the environment and developing excellent team working and communication skills, the Envirothon granted me several scholarships both on state and national levels. As I left High school and started University in Australia, I began to put the knowledge and skills I developed in the Envirothon club to constructive use. Additionally, I greatly appreciated the financial aid from the Envirothon scholarships, since my international student fees were quite high. So my thanks goes out to the NYS Envirothon committee and also to the NYS Conservation District Employees Association for making these scholarships possible.
~ Mailene Kleinsasser, Envirothon Alumni (2011-2013) The Mount Academy, NY

New York

The Envirothon gave me many of the my best memories from high school. Beyond the financial help it provided me with, which has helped a lot in my further education, the Envirothon has taught me important concepts of environmental integrity and given me a great respect for the natural world. While not at school I work at a furniture company that has in recent years taken steps to conserve the environment. Our company uses American-made goods as much as possible to minimize fossil fuel emissions associated with transportation. In addition, the all wood furniture is constructed entirely of FSC certified timber, timber that is reasonably and ethically harvested. The Envirothon made me aware of the importance of such issues and I hope that I can help my company to continue along the lines of sustainability.

In addition, skills such as public speaking and working as a group have helped a lot with later studies and classes. Also, the practical knowledge and skills I gained in the my areas of study, especially forestry and aquatics, have also resurfaced many times since graduating high school. I really enjoy working in the woods and have done a lot of it as a direct result of my Envirothon studies.
~ Harmon Gattis New York State Champion Team Member (2011-2013)

New York

As a sophomore studying Wood Science and Forest Resource Management at West Virginia University, I have to credit much of my success to my participation in the Envirothon. Many of the classes I am taking now cover the same concepts and even some of the same material that I was introduced to through this competition. For example, I just finished at the top of my class in college-level Dendrology with relative ease due to all the time I spent on tree identification in high school. Difficult forestry concepts fell into place much more easily for me since I had some background in basal area calculations or harvesting techniques. I also found that the Envirothon provided me with some invaluable exposure to skills like problem solving, public speaking, and teamwork, all of which are now paying off. Finally, the scholarships I received from different Envirothon competitions were very helpful in getting started at WVU and provided a good incentive to take the competition seriously. The Envirothon proved to be a very worthwhile experience, and I would strongly recommend it to any student. Hopefully it continues to impact young adults for many generations to come.
~ Royce Durgin New York State Envirothon

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