Arizona environmental science students looked to the future to predict how food will be produced on a changing planet at the Arizona Envirothon this weekend at the R-C Scout Ranch near Payson. A team of students from Tri-City Prep High School in Prescott won the statewide competition Saturday with a presentation focused on using various technologies from grid sampling with sensors to drones to robots in future sustainable agriculture.
A team from Centennial High School in Peoria placed second and a team from University High School in Tucson came in third.
Carolyn Muchna coached team members Julia Goswick, Ethan Krafft, Natalie D’Angelo, Audrey Guess and Jake Torres. They will travel to Raleigh, North Carolina to represent Arizona at the international NCF Envirothon this summer.
“Envirothon opened up a whole new world to me,” said Tri-City co-captain Julia Goswick. “This topic was so real-world, it is so important, it covers every aspect of the world. Our team was so enthusiastic and so creative in working on this.” Her co-captain, Ethan Krafft, said agricultural technology is something unique the students had never talked about before. “Using new technology in food production is something we’ll be able to see in our lifetime.”
The two-day contest measures students’ knowledge, including field skills, in aquatic ecology, water quality, forestry and wildlife management, soil science, land use and agriculture, then requires students to apply that knowledge to address an ecological challenge. This year, the special theme was – Agriculture and the Environment: Knowledge and technology to feed the world.
Twelve five-member teams from seven Arizona high schools competed from Phoenix (Ariz Agribusiness and Equine Center, Paradise Valley campus), Buckeye (Youngker HS), Peoria (Centennial HS), Goodyear (Trivium Prep Academy), Tucson (University HS) Vail (Cienega HS), and Prescott (Tri-City College Prep).
The teams’ proposed scenarios were to develop a research farm to evaluate various technologies to maintain sustainable agricultural production in spite of the impacts of climate change. Teams envisioned researching techniques ranging from drip irrigation and radar technology for monitoring weather patterns to composting food waste, pairing solar panels with crop production, pairing drones with sensors to read soil moisture and fertility and plant health, vertical farming, autonomous farm equipment and robot technology.
Award winners for ecostation field testing skills were:
Soils and Land Use
First: Tri-City Prep (team 8), Prescott
Second: Centennial High School (team 9), Peoria
Third: University High School (team 4), Tucson
First: University High School (Team 4), Tucson
Second: Arizona Agribusiness & Equine Center, Paradise Valley (Team 5), Phoenix
Third: University High School (Team 3), Tucson
First: tie – University High School (Team 3), Tucson, and Centennial High School (Team 9), Peoria
Second: Trivium Prep Academy (Team 2), Goodyear
Third: University High School (Team 4), Tucson
First: University High School (Team 3), Tucson
Second: Tri-City Prep (Team 8), Prescott
Third: Trivium Prep Academy (Team 2), Goodyear
Spirit of Envirothon Award:
Marie Licht, Arizona Department of Water Quality, long-term Envirothon supporter and competition judge