Pennsylvania leads the way
In 1979, the Pennsylvania Soil and Water Conservation Districts created an “Environmental Olympics” competition as an approach aimed to encourage high school students to become interested in natural resource conservation and environmental issues. The Environmental Olympics, later shortened to Enviro-Olympics, quickly gained popularity as a hands-on outdoor competition designed to challenge and test each student’s knowledge of soils, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and current environmental issues.
For nearly a decade, the Pennsylvania Enviro-Olympics program demonstrated its ability to promote environmental literacy and supplement education in grades 9-12. The program quickly grew in size to include participation by 40 conservation district teams at the 1987 Pennsylvania State Enviro-Olympics, providing greater visibility for the program and stimulating the interest of neighboring states.
In 1988 the program became known as the Envirothon. That year, teams from Ohio, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania competed at the first National Envirothon hosted and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts.
Arizona joins the Envirothon
Arizona Envirothon was established in 1997 by representatives of several agencies and organizations throughout Arizona, including the Agua Fria-New River NRCD, Arizona Association for Learning in and about the Environment, and the Phoenix Zoo. That same year Canon U.S.A., Inc. began supporting the Envirothon In 1998, Arizona Envirothon held its first competition with six teams. In 1999, eleven teams competed. In both years, the Arizona team won first place in the Canon Envirothon. Each member of the winning team received a $2,500 scholarship.
Historically, the majority of promotion and support for the Envirothon came from conservation district associations and cooperating state, federal and provincial resource agencies such as the US Forest Service, National Association of Conservation Districts, and Canadian Forestry Associations. However, Canon U.S.A., Inc. began supporting the Envirothon in 1997, and they became the title sponsor in 1999. Canon’s contributions and dedication to environmental awareness and preservation is increasing the visibility of the Envirothon and promoting greater participation in Arizona and every state.