Eco-Prep: How Palmetto Students Are Preparing For Envirothon

Edie Carneiro, Copy Editor

On Feb. 15, Envirothon 2023 will take place at Tree Tops Park in Davie, FL. Envirothon is an environmental science competition where teams of five people and two alternates work together to take written tests on five topics: wildlife, soil and land use, forestry, aquatics and the current yearly issue. This year, the issue is climate change. 

In addition to a written test, students must answer hands-on questions, such as identifying a plant or type of soil. Teams must also collaborate to make a presentation based on a prompt given to them; the prompt this year focuses on how to track South Florida waterway conditions using current technology to determine changes caused by climate change and to give three suggestions for regulations that can help mitigate these conditions. 

With much to memorize and learn from the provided study documents, preparing for Envirothon requires a lot of effort. This is especially true for Miami Palmetto Senior High junior and team captain of her group, Isabel Duran. This is her third year participating, and while she made it to the international level of the competition last year, she has been tirelessly studying her topic: wildlife.

“The first year, you know, it was very overwhelming because there are a lot of really specific facts and it is hard to know what they are going to ask you,” Duran said. “This year, I am doing a Quizlet, and I think that is how some of the other team members study as well. It is also just reading everything a million times. It is super tedious, but it works.”

Studying is not the only thing that helps students prepare for the competition, though, according to MPSH freshman and first-time competitor Janie Cai.

“I think taking Environmental Science, like the class, right now has actually helped a lot with understanding [the material],” Cai said.

Although the preparation for Envirothon is rigorous, according to competitors, the community they have formed is well worth the time. 

“I think just talking with my group members [has been my favorite part of preparing], because they are all, like, amazing people. And it is really nice to learn from them because a lot of them are sophomores,” Cai said.

Duran shares a similar sentiment, feeling grateful for her teammates’ support throughout the past few weeks of work.

“If you are doing Envirothon, you are part of a community,” Duran said. “We have a great team.”

As for their tournament goals, all of MPSH’s competitors have one objective: to take home the coveted victory.

“Well, I mean, I think every single one of us wants to make it to the next level and hopefully the international level. I think we all just want to win,” Duran said. 

While studying and taking classes is the major part of the preparation for Envirothon, none of that would be possible without Advanced Placement Environmental Science and Solar Energy honors teacher Pamela Shlachtman, who has overseen the competition at MPSH for years. 

“Ms. Shlachtman has been really good [as an advisor],” Cai said. “She has been giving us good criticism and I think, you know, she is confident in all of us.”