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Tillamook High School earned several awards at this year’s Oregon Envirothon, including winning the Future Natural Resources Leaders CDE awards. Over 100 students across the state competed in this year’s event.

Now in its twenty-third year, the annual natural resources knowledge competition, organized by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI), was held virtually for the first time on May 1. The Oregon Envirothon organizers and students did not let COVID-19 get in the way of their hard work and preparation for the 2020 event and found new ways to compete while social distancing at home.

Lori Loeffler, natural resources CTE teacher at Tillamook High School and Future Natural Resource Leaders (FNRL) advisor, said the competition usually involves rotating through stations. This year, the test was sent out to the team captains the morning of the competition. The students had six hours to complete and turn in the test.

Loeffler teaches a dual credit class with Tillamook Bay Community College. Part of the final is creating the video portion and participating in Envirothon. This year’s group included 10 students from the class.

Loeffler said having the test virtual created a lot of challenges for other teams. Loeffler’s students were together already in Google Classroom. She said this worked out well for the competition.

Loeffer said students do not have to participate in Envirothon and have the option to do a traditional research final instead, although many students choose to participate.

“The competition itself is fun,” Loeffer said.

The Oregon Envirothon, typically held at The Oregon Garden in Silverton, is a problem-solving education program and competition that teaches high school students across the state about environmental sciences. Participating students competed remotely in teams to train and test in five categories: aquatic ecology, wildlife ecology, soils and land use, and a revolving current issue.

This year, the current issue portion of the competition focused on water resources management and asked students to determine what local stakeholders can do to address integrated water management challenges.

Amity High School, located in Yamhill County, received the highest score, making them the outright winner for the first time in school history.

In addition to an overall winner, the National FFA Organization and the Oregon FNRL with Career Development Event (CDE) awards recognize teams. Amity High School received the Oregon FFA Environmental and Natural Resources CDE award. Tillamook High School was selected for the FNRL-Oregon Envirothon CDE award.

Loeffer said she was happy to see the students do so well but never puts that kind of pressure on them. The students went into the competition 100 percent with grit and resilience.

“I’m so proud of them,” Loeffer said.

The students tied for first place overall on the wildlife portion of the test. Each team had a different spin.

Tillamook High School was also first in state for the FNRL division, second in FNRL for Team Forces of Nature.

Loeffer said FNRL is the natural resources equivalent of FFA. Envirothon is one of FNRL’s career development events.

The Tillamook High School students went above and beyond what they were required to do and this speaks a lot about the kids, Loeffer said.

The students each received a t-shirt and a certificate.

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