Pennsylvania leads the way
In 1979, the Pennsylvania Soil and Water Conservation Districts created an “Environmental Olympics” competition as an approach aimed to encourage high school students to become interested in natural resource conservation and environmental issues. The Environmental Olympics, later shortened to Enviro-Olympics, quickly gained popularity as a hands-on outdoor competition designed to challenge and test each student’s knowledge of soils, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and current environmental issues.
For nearly a decade, the Pennsylvania Enviro-Olympics program demonstrated its ability to promote environmental literacy and supplement education in grades 9-12. The program quickly grew in size to include participation by 40 conservation district teams at the 1987 Pennsylvania State Enviro-Olympics, providing greater visibility for the program and stimulating the interest of neighboring states.
In 1988 the program became known as the Envirothon. That year, teams from Ohio, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania competed at the first National Envirothon hosted and sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts.
Arizona joins the Envirothon
Arizona Envirothon was established in 1997 by representatives of several agencies and organizations throughout Arizona, including the Agua Fria-New River NRCD, Arizona Association for Learning in and about the Environment, and the Phoenix Zoo. That same year Canon U.S.A., Inc. began supporting the Envirothon In 1998, Arizona Envirothon held its first competition with six teams. In 1999, eleven teams competed. In both years, the Arizona team won first place in the Canon Envirothon. Each member of the winning team received a $2,500 scholarship.
Historically, Envirothon funding came from local conservation districts, state conservation committees, state, federal and provincial conservation organizations, and provincial forestry associations. In 1997,
Canon U.S.A., Inc. began supporting the Envirothon program and, in 1999, became the title sponsor until 2013. The program currently operates under the name NCF-Envirothon as part of the National
Conservation Foundation (Washington D.C.).
National Conservation Foundation (NCF)- Envirothon is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established to coordinate the delivery of an environmental education program for high school students throughout North America and China (2016). With generous sponsorships from local conservation districts, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Forestry Associations, the National Association of Conservation Districts, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Smithfield Foods and many others, the Envirothon has
proven to be an exciting and useful tool for incorporating natural resource education into high school classrooms.
More than 50,000 students across the United States and Canada are positively influenced by the Envirothon each year. And now, the Envirothon is displaying promise in becoming international in scope
as more countries such as Mexico, Turkey, Japan, and Australia are showing interest in the program. Arizona State Envirothon is proud to be a part of the incredible history of this important environmental
The winning team from the Arizona Envirothon is sent on a weeklong expense-paid trip to the NCF Envirothon competition. The team is provided with room, board and travel to attend the competition, held annually in July/August in a different sponsoring state or Canadian province.
More than 44 states and 8 Canadian provinces participate in this prestigious event – this is truly the “best of the best.” The top teams are awarded scholarships ranging from $1000 – $3000 per student.
*Adapted from the draft National Standards for Environmental Education (NAAEE), August 1995 draft.
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Arizona Association of Conservation Districts
AZ Chapter – Soil & Water Conservation Society
Big Sandy NRCD
SWCA Environmental Consultants
West Pinal NRCD
Agua Fria-New River NRCD
Salt River Project
Tucson Electric Power/UniSource Energy Services
Rodney Held, Program Chair
Salt River Project
Dawn Reddick, Fundraising Committee Chair
Jeannette Fish, Public Relations Committee Chair
Maricopa County Farm Bureau (Retired)
Karen Schedler, Testing & Education Committee Co-Chair
Natural Teacher, LLC
Linda Diamantides, Vice-Chair
Pamela Justice, Awards Committee Chair
University of Arizona, Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
Christine Brehm, Site Committee Chair
Desert Botanical Garden
Doug Green, Testing & Education Committee Co-Chair
Arizona State university
Rodney Held, Program Chair
Linda Diamantides, Program Vice Chair
PO Box 60964
Phoenix, AZ 85082
Jeannette Fish, Publics Relations Chair
Shayla Hughes, Webmaster