Deer River competes

Pictured, from left, are Kirby Schmidt, Marshall Michienzi, Thor Kongsjord, Trevor Michienzi, Lucy Kaczor and Cole Fox.

On May 20, the Deer River Envirothon Team competed at the State Envirothon and placed 8th overall out of 27 teams.

“It’s a competition where you get to see different areas of the environment and natural resources,” said junior team member Thor Kongsjord.

The main event, sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, took place at the Historic Oliver Kelley Farm in Elk River, Minn. Teams consisting of five students from the same school/organization visit six different learning stations covering Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife and a current environmental topic that changes every year.

Cole Fox, a senior at Deer River High School, is no stranger to the outdoors, but shared a new perspective on an area that he is still learning more about: Agriculture.

“Agricultural practices such as irrigation and a clean, healthy environment can go hand in hand,” said Fox.

According to the Minnesota State Envirothon website, “This exposure to nature from a critical perspective, and its interrelationship with human impacts on the natural world, provide invaluable lessons, and develops an understanding of ecosystems and our environment.”    

AgriScience teacher Kirby Schmidt, who is familiar with the Envirothon competition as a former competitor and coach, introduced students to the competition for the first time this year.

“It was a great experience working with these students, witnessing their growth and guiding them to tackle real-world issues that many of them have interests in… they were willing to try something new and had a lot of fun learning. It’s what I love about education,” Schmidt said.

The team consisted of seniors Lucy Kaczor and Fox, as well as juniors Trevor Michienzi, Marshall Michienzi and Kongsjord.

“It (the oral presentation) was for the Oliver Kelley Farm. We had to find the best irrigation system for their plot of land,” said Michienzi.              

“(Envirothon) has taught me to research and helped me to speak in front of others. It also taught me to make connections with things I didn’t think I could make connections with. I have also learned to think on the fly,” said Kongsjord, who has been in an Agricultural Communications class learning public speaking skills throughout the school year. The team placed fourth in the Oral Presentation.

How might this impact a students' future?

Michienzi, shared, “I have a new experience from something that I have never done before. This experience has shown me that I can set my mind on something and get it done.”

“I feel a lot more confident with public speaking, while learning about how irrigation helps feed the world,” added Kaczor.

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