International envirothon 2023

Decorah High School students Lucas Arendt, Connor Evelsizer, Gabriel Hiner, Anders Lovstuen, and Aiden Nalean-Carlson earned a trip to New Brunswick, Canada, to represent Iowa in Envirothon international competition by earning the outright highest scores in the aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife, and speech categories at the state contest. Teams from fifty-one states, provinces, and countries were all vying for top honors at the international contest. Decorah finished in a very respectful nineteenth place, and the team knows if they had answered just two more questions correctly, they would have finished in the fifteenth spot.

The Envirothon is a five-member team competition for high school students which tests their knowledge of natural resources. Whether in the field or the classroom, students are challenged to use their knowledge and critical thinking skills to conduct hands-on investigations, solve real-life scenarios, and answer written and hands-on questions covering five categories: Aquatics, Forestry, Soils, Wildlife, and a current environmental issue.

The international experience proved invaluable as far as team bonding, meeting new students from around the world, navigating a complicated travel situation, and making memories. The International Envirothon competition changes locations every year, and this year proved to be a phenomenal destination site: New Brunswick has the highest tides in the world.

Allysen Lovstuen served the team as an invaluable assistant advisor. Without her help and guidance, keeping everyone on a tight schedule would have been much more difficult. As an added bonus, she kept the families back home supplied with daily updates and pictures.

Very generous contributions were made to the DHS Envirothon program from the State Envirothon committee, making the trip to New Brunswick possible; donors include Smithfield Foods, Conservation Districts of Iowa, Barb Schroeder and the Winneshiek County Conservation Board, Decorah Lions, Decorah Booster Club, Kevin and Leslie Sand, and Marc Nichols.

Coach Larry Berland stated, “I cannot express adequately how much I enjoy working with the Envirothon students. Although they found the questions a bit tougher at the international level of competition, it was overall a very successful journey.” Berland added, “The number of participants and their results indicate an awesome display of our Decorah students’ concern and awareness of their natural environment around them. Living in this community is advantageous for these students because so many parents and residents model excellent stewardship of their surroundings. We are grateful to all of our sponsors and for the positive support from family and friends. Finally, a big thank you goes out to all the administrators and teachers in the district who have helped develop these fine students. The students’ success is directly proportional to their never-ending efforts.”

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Envirothon state winners travelled to Canada for international competition. From (l-r): Gabriel Hiner, Connor Evelsizer, Anders Lovstuen, Lucas Arendt, and Aiden Nalean-Carlson
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Enjoying the sites of Canada.  From (l-r): Coach Larry Berland, Lucas Arendt, Aiden Nalean-Carlson, Connor Evelsizer, Gabriel Hiner, Anders Lovstuen, and assistant advisor Allysen Lovstuen

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Proudly representing Iowa. From (l-r): Coach Larry Berland, Gabriel Hiner, Aiden Nalean-Carlson, Lucas Arendt, Anders Lovstuen, Connor Evelsizer, and assistant advisor Allysen Lovstuen