|Jennings Envirothon finishes 5th at state|
|Friday, June 13, 2014 8:00 PM|
DHI Media Editor
FORT JENNINGS — Fort Jennings Envirothon Team I made its 17th consecutive appearance at state competition June 9 and 10 at Salt Fork State Park in Guernsey County, placing fifth out of the top 20 teams from the state.
The annual event is an outdoor competition that tests students’ knowledge of soil, forestry, wildlife, aquatic ecology and current environmental issues. This year’s theme was “Sustainable Agriculture.” The winning team was from Boardman High School.
Team I members include Jared Hoersten, Logan Sickels, Sarah Hellman, Keri Eickholt and Alex Sealts. Fort Jennings Team II was also eligible to attend the state competition and finished 16th. Team members include Dillon Schimmoeller, Ryan Hoersten, Jeremy Smith, Drew Grone and Allen Fischbach. Both teams are advised by Jeff Jostpille.
This is Jostpille’s 17th year with teams at Fort Jennings and his 17th trip to state with them. He spent six years prior with Envirothon teams from St. John’s High School.
“I was advisor at Delphos St. John’s for six years. The Allen Soil and Water office had this ‘new’ competition back then. I think it was only three years old or so and asked if we wanted to join,” Jostpille recalled. “I have now been to state with every one of my Jennings teams and most of those Delphos ones, too. My first two years at Jennings, 1996 and 1997, I still coached St. John’s and we won state and were able to go to nationals in Nebraska the first year and Pennsylvania the next. We finished seventh in the nation in 1997.”
“With Fort Jennings, we have been state runner-up three times. Finishing last year, we tied out of 700 points and lost the tie-breaker or we would have been in Montana for nationals.”
Jostpille said he loves what he does and it allows him to see parts of his home state he might not otherwise visit.
“I enjoy the topic of course. I have been able to learn more about soils, forestry, aquatics, etc., by teaching and preparing for this competition than in any class I ever took. I enjoy getting to go all around the state for the Area I and then state competitions. I have been to almost every college and university in the state and now all the state parks. We have a beautiful and very diverse state here in Ohio,” Jostpille said.
During the competition, students compete by answering questions as a team at field test sites and prepare a short oral presentation on the theme of the year. Monday morning and afternoon are spent at the test site working on the tests and for four hours Monday evening, the teams work on preparing their presentations which must include visual displays also. The team advisors are not allowed to be with their team at any of the testing or preparing times.
Tuesday the teams are assigned a time to give their presentation in front of a three judge panel that includes local resource people, EPA representatives, local government officials, college professors or Ohio Department of Natural Resource personnel. An awards banquet is held on Tuesday afternoon with the winner representing Ohio at the North American Envirothon.
Jostpille said the secret to his teams’ successes is simple.
“The key is the kids and the amount of time they put into this. It is all volunteer,” he said. “We practice at 8 p.m. after everyone else is done and goes home and on Sundays or any time we can. We meet two times a week from January to May,” he said. “They enjoy the competition and they see the success we have had and want to continue that; and get that elusive state championship!”
While a lot of work is done in the classroom, as environmental implies, a lot of field work is also involved.
“We then start studying the five areas we will be tested on, we go out to Kendrick Woods and some of the county parks in Findlay to study and identify trees. We have posters and field guides to study wildlife - pelts, tracks, skulls, etc.,” Jostpille said. “We go kick seining in the river for aquatic insects and sometimes I have a professional in the field come in or we go somewhere to meet them and they help with the topic where I can’t.”
Jostpille and his students have eye to future and make sure they explore different career paths that could be taken dealing with what they learn.
“We take a field trip in May to to meet with environmental engineers at different places for more background knowledge of what jobs and careers are actually out there. Examples include Ford, Procter and Gamble, GM in Defiance, the Husky refinery, Campbell’s in Napoleon, a mega farm in Montpelier, etc.,” he said. “We have been very lucky to do all these things over the years. This year, we went to the University of Findlay to their program on environmental education and hazardous waste management.
“I have had students graduate from that program over the years and are working everyday in the field. Numerous other students have branched out to include environmental fields in their majors too. This is very rewarding and important, also,” he added.