While Churchill has been going through a rough patch over the last 12 months, the town was a popular destination for students May 24-27 as host of the 2018 Manitoba Envirothon provincials.
Over 100 high school students from across the province competed in this environmentally themed academic competition that tests their knowledge in areas such as aquatic ecology, forestry, soils, wildlife, and, lastly, climate change, which served as this year’s special theme.
Competitors included students from R.D. Parker Collegiate, who earned the privilege to attend after impressing the judges at the Manitoba Envirothon regionals, which were hosted at Riverlodge Place in Thompson back in April.
For the provincial competition, these students were tasked with showcasing their knowledge of environmental sciences through two different components: a field test and an oral presentation.
“We’ve been studying all year with these different disciplines and they give us the resources to study with,” said RDPC science teacher Nicole Harwood, who served as an advisor to these students throughout this event. “For each of the disciplines there’s different questions and they all have to work together as a team to answer them.”
Even though the RDPC team won’t be advancing to the North American Envirothon, Harwood said she’s still proud of her students’ performance, especially since a lot of other schools come into this competition with a natural advantage.
“There are some schools within the province where it’s actually a credit-based course and it’s built within their curriculum,” she said. “Ours is completely extra curricular.”
Regardless of how they finished, Grade 12 student Junvi De Ramos told the Thompson Citizen that he’s just happy he was able to visit the unique Arctic tundra surrounding Churchill at least once before he graduated.
“It’s a privilege going to Churchill and taking in the awareness of their culture … especially now that the railroad is closed,” he said.
More broadly, Harwood said the competition served as a great pick-me-up for the community of Churchill as a whole, especially after one of their most prominent restaurants, Gypsy’s Bakery, burnt to the ground back in mid-May.
“It was just good for the community to get out and see people and something different,” she said. “They were excited to have all these people in their small community.”
The winners of the 2018 Manitoba Envirothon go on to compete in the North American Envirothon, which is scheduled to take place in Pocatello, Idaho in late July.
The Manitoba Envirothon itself is organized by the Manitoba Forestry Association, and has been taking place in the province since 1997.