Envirothon team wins big

Published 10:15 am Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Cumberland High School Envirothon Team is ready to compete at the state level. After achieving success this month at the regional competition, now it’s time to aim higher.

The team competed on Tuesday, April 18, at the Area 4 Envirothon Competition at Holiday Lake 4-H Center. The team competed and scored in several categories that tested their knowledge on soils, aquatics, wildlife, forestry and a special topic for a presentation. The team finished first in aquatics, second in soils and third in wildlife, finishing overall in third place. The team is made up of Cole Dalton, Phillip Cross, Celeste Mitchell, Tucker Bowman, Brianna Barker, Mark Tuttle and Kaitlynne Kelsey.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Joshua Fleenor, agriculture instructor at Cumberland County High School. “This is the third year in a row we’ve qualified for state and it’s a pretty competitive competition. The kids are excited and have worked really hard and are looking forward to going.”

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The Envirothon is hosted by Dominion Energy and presented by the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts. The competition is to help students learn more about stewardship and management concepts and work to solve real-world environmental problems. Some of the skills they tested were water quality testing, pH level testing, soil testing, animal management, habitat management, hunting, fishing and trapping regulations and many more.

Each year, the teams are given a topic to create a presentation on and this year was about climate change. For the Cumberland team, they had about 20 minutes to prepare a presentation for the judges on how they would identify and fix problems in the city of Hopewell. This is much like what they would do in real life in front of the board of supervisors or city council.

“The competition is a great opportunity and opens a lot of doors in the industry and allows for them to have internships and other opportunities,” said Fleenor.


The students aren’t the only ones recognized for their work. Fleenor was selected this year by the Virginia Agriculture Association of Educators as the Outstanding Early Career Teacher Award for the State of Virginia. His application will be reviewed against other state winners within the region and six winners will be considered for selection at the national level through the National Association of Agricultural Educators.

“Agriculture is the backbone of society,” he said. “Only 2% of people are actively involved in agriculture and 100% are impacted by it in some way whether its food, clothes, their car or their home.”

Fleenor knows that it is unreasonable to expect each student he teaches to become a farmer. However, there are more jobs in the agriculture field than just “plows and cows” according to Fleenor. There are more lucrative jobs in the field and many of them aren’t very competitive since many people don’t know about them.

“If my students leave my class as a more informed consumer then I’ve done my job,” said Fleenor.