High School Contests

Credit: Lori Potter, Kearney Hub


The Envirothon is an environmental and natural resources education competition, reaching more than 25,000 high school students across the United States, Canada, and China annually. The Nebraska Envirothon is a competition designed for high school students (9th-12th grades) to test their knowledge about the environment.

The Envirothon is an agriculture, wildlife and science competition for high school students, which is traditionally held outdoors to give students a chance to take their classroom learning and apply it in a natural setting. Five-member teams compete to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and a current environmental issue. The top team from each state, province and nation partner participate in the annual NCF-Envirothon. The goal of the annual competition is help shape our future leaders’ knowledge in natural resources issues.

2021 NCF Envirothon Nebraska Announces Winning Teams

2021 NCF-Envirothon winners from Esopus, New York. Team members: Josiah Boller, Nicole Thomson, Jocelyn Maendel, Niels Wipf, Jenna Maendel. Advisor: Neal Horning

Students from Esopus, New York, Named Champions

LINCOLN, Nebraska – On July 28, students from Esopus, New York, took the top prize of $15,000 at the 2021 National Conservation Foundation (NCF)-Envirothon, an international environmental and natural resources education competition for high schoolers.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and health concerns, the annual NCF-Envirothon competition was held virtually, a first for the Envirothon program, and 41 teams across the U.S., Canada and China participated. The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) hosted the competition July 25-28, and students demonstrated their knowledge of soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry and wildlife management. The teams also prepared oral presentations on this year’s current issue, “Water Resources Management: Local Control, Local Solutions."

The winning NCF-Envirothon teams are awarded scholarships and prizes, with the top three scoring teams receiving $30,000 in scholarships thanks to the support of Smithfield Foods, Inc. The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Foundation awarded a total of $13,000 for fourth through seventh places and a donation from the Conservation Districts of Iowa provided awards for eighth through tenth place. The top 10 teams include:
1     Esopus, New York
2     Denton, North Carolina
3     Spartanburg, South Carolina
4     Groton, Massachusetts
5     Miami, Florida
6     Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
7      Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania
8     Toronto, Ontario, Canada
9     Rockville, Maryland
10     Swan River, Manitoba, Canada

“This year marked the 32nd annual Envirothon competition and was the most innovative to date,” said NCF-Envirothon Program Manager Jennifer Brooks. “The Envirothon program continues to challenge, inspire and empower high school students to pursue environmental, conservation and natural resources-related fields.”  Next year’s NCF-Envirothon will be hosted by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, July 24-30, 2022. The 2022 current environmental issue will be Waste to Resources.

State Envirothon Contest

Despite the pandemic, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts are committed to hosting the Envirothon in 2021.

Regional Contest: Held February 3-5 through virtual testing

More than 75 teams competed in the regional contests between Feb. 3-5, and 14 teams qualified to participate at the state competition.The Special Topic this year was Water Resources Management. A study guide on this and all topics are available on the Envirothon website at: www.nrdnet.org/nebraska-envirothon

State Contest: Ord Qualifies for International NCF-Envirothon

High schoolers from across Nebraska – and a few pelicans – descended on Lake Wanahoo for the 29th annual Nebraska State Envirothon April 28. Ord High School took home the championship along with $1,500 and will represent Nebraska at the National Conservation Foundation (NCF) Envirothon in July. This year’s competition was hosted at the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District’s Lake Wanahoo near Wahoo.

“Envirothon allows students to get outdoors and learn about natural resources in a hands-on environment,” said Jim Eschliman, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts president. “The activities are designed to help students become environmentally-aware, action-oriented adults, but also exposes them to many exciting career opportunities.”

During the state competition, five-member teams were tested on their knowledge of aquatics, forestry, policy, range, soils and wildlife, as well as prepared and delivered an oral presentation focusing on a current environmental issue. The 2021 oral presentation theme “Water Resources Management: Local Control, Local Solutions” challenged teams to propose a solution on a complex problem before a panel of judges.

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Foundation awarded cash prizes to the top three winning teams at the state competition:

  • First Place ($1,500): Ord
  • Second Place ($1,000): Norris Team 2
  • Third Place ($500): Arthur County

Additional prizes were awarded to the top teams in each testing category:

  • Aquatics: Norris Team 2
  • Forestry: Pender
  • Policy: Arthur County, Norris Team 1 and St. Paul
  • Range: Ord
  • Soils: Ord and St. Paul
  • Wildlife: Norris Team 2
  • Oral Presentation: Concordia

Ord will represent Nebraska at the NCF-Envirothon July 25-28, to compete for a top prize of $15,000. The international NCF-Envirothon will be hosted virtually by Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts and will include more than 40 teams from the U.S., Canada and China.

All high school students (five-member teams) are eligible to compete in the Nebraska Envirothon. Learn more at www.nrdnet.org/nebraska-envirothon.

NCF-Envirothon iNaturalist Project

Engage your students during winter break by getting them back into nature! The NCF-Envirothon iNaturalist project is an exciting distance engagement opportunity designed to help continue the hands-on, experiential learning that is foundational to the Envirothon program. For more information about the project, including how to join, click here!

Central Region Contests

The Central Platte & Lower Loup NRDs co-host the Central Region competition. Your school may compete at ANY regional contest; however, you may only compete in one regional contest per year.  NOTE: Flexible Testing Flexible times are allowed for students competing in District Ag sessions.

Teams that score the highest at each regional contest are invited to the Nebraska State Envirothon. The winner of that contest will go on to represent Nebraska at the National Conservation Foundation (NCF) contest to be held in July 2022.

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Foundation is the annual sponsor of the Nebraska Envirothon. The NARD Foundation gives $1,500 to 1st place winning team, $1,000 to 2nd place, and $500 to the third-place team. Each team must use the money to enhance their high school’s Envirothon and natural resources & agriculture programs. The winning team can also use it to help pay their way to the international competition. Each team member on the winning team is also awarded a $500 scholarship by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to be used towards a major in the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources.

Your Contacts:
Marcia at lee@cpnrd.org or 308-385-6282
Larry Schultz at larrys@llnrd.org or 308-728-3221

Land Evaluation

Land Judging is a high school competition that challenges students to gain a better understanding of soil structure and land evaluation. Land Judging enables each participant to learn how to recognize the physical features of the soil, determine land capability for crop production, and evaluate management practices needed for proper stewardship. Soil, land and home-site evaluation provide a setting for students to investigate the soils in their region, the environment that surrounds them and their effect on their daily lives. There are three divisions as part of the contest – students, adults, and professionals.

During the competition, students judge four soil pits using an evaluation card to make assessments on: soil depth, surface texture, permeability, slope, thickness of surface and erosion. Each evaluation card is scored and added together to determine overall scores for individuals and the team. In order to compete in the state contest, teams advance from one of the seven regional competitions hosted across the state in October.

South Central Contest  - hosted by CPNRD & NRCS in Hall County



Range Judging

Range Judging Contests are high school competitions that provide students opportunities to have fun while becoming better educated on sustaining the yield of rangeland products by enhancement and protection of the range resources of soil, water, and plant and animal life. The Range Judging season consists of six regional events followed by a state contest. The contest rotates to different counties each year and tests participants on range plant identification, rangelands and plant community change, and range condition.

2021 Area 4 Range Judging Contest  - hosted by Central Platte NRD and NRCS 
DATE:               Wednesday, September 15
LOCATION:      Dawson County
CHECK-IN:      8:30 a.m. at Dawson County Fairgrounds, 1000 Plum Creek Pkwy, Lexington, NE 68850

There are 3 contest divisions: Junior (sophomore class and under), Senior (junior & senior class), and Adult. As per the Range Judging rules, do not put your students on teams. The scoring program will automatically sort students by the highest to lowest scores, placing your top scoring students on the same team. Scoring will take place at the CPNRD office in Grand Island on September 16th.