General Format

Students work in their five member teams to discuss and answer all questions. Teams rotate through time-limited stations where they answer multiple choice and short-answer questions that test their basic knowledge, identification skills, the use of basic equipment and procedures and the ability to interpret and apply that information to real-life scenarios. Each station addresses one of the four topical areas: aquatic ecology, forestry, soils, wildlife. During the Regional Competitions, current environmental issues with be addressed in each of the four areas. At the State Competition, a fifth station is added to address the current environmental issue.

At Regional Competitions, emphasis is placed on knowledge of scientific principles and concepts. General understanding of biology and earth science as they relate to environmental issues will also be tested. Questions get more involved and challenging at the State and National levels.

At the State and National levels, participating teams will be required to prepare and present how they would address a current environmental issue during an oral session. Details on this problem will be sent to all state competitors several weeks prior to the state competition.

How does the competition actually work?

Both Regional and State Competitions cover five categories: aquatic ecology, forestry, soils, wildlife and environmental issues. Teams rotate through time-limited test stations (4 at the Regional level and 5 at the State and National levels) that utilize a problem solving approach as well as testing general knowledge and identification abilities. Additionally, an oral presentation dealing with a current environmental issue must be given at the State and National levels.

At each station, the team works as a group and only one answer sheet is completed. As each group completes a station, their answers will be taken to the official scorekeepers. The answers are checked, tallied and entered on the official scorecard.  At the end of the competition, there is a review session during which teams have the opportunity to look at their scored tests to note which questions they missed. No tests are taken home by any team.

Goals of the Iowa Envirothon

  • Increase students’ knowledge and awareness of the interrelationship of our natural resources.
  • Promote environmental awareness and stewardship.
  • Develop students’ critical thinking, cooperative problem solving, and decision-making skills.
  • Present balanced options for management of our renewable and nonrenewable natural resources.
  • Provide awareness of and accessibility to resource organizations offering assistance in environmental issues.

Regional Competitions

Teams must compete in a Regional Competition in order to qualify for State. Teams can enter the Regional Competition that best fits their schedule and location parameters. Enrollment is limited to 16 teams per site, with spaces allocated as registrations are received. Due to the likelihood of cold weather in March and to ensure equality in testing conditions, Regional Competitions will be held indoors.

Regional competitions are held in Cherokee, Red Oak, West Des Moines, Iowa City, and Waterloo

The top 15 teams state-wide (only 2 teams per school), based on scores from all the Regional Competitions, will be invited to the State Competition.

State Competition

The top 15 teams from around the state will meet on a Monday in April at the Des Moines YMCA Camp in Boone, Iowa. The competition will be held outdoors-rain or shine. In addition to the testing of general information, questions will also focus on asking students to demonstrate their skill in areas such as soil judging and use of soil surveys; knowledge of wildlife species and their habitat; determining parameters of water quality and knowledge of aquatic plant and animal species; forest species identification and equipment used in measurement of trees and forests. The students will also give an oral presentation as part of the State Competition. Students will be sent the oral presentation question approximately one month prior to the State event. Team work will be stressed at all sites.

National Competition

The top team in the State of Iowa will receive an expense paid trip to attend the National Envirothon Competition. During part of that time, teams from around the country will attend classes and participate in field studies to increase their knowledge about environmental issues that will help prepare them for the competition. They will also be given more information regarding the current events oral presentation topic, which will deal with the same topic as the State Competition.

Download the Iowa Envirothon Overview Here