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Envirothon competition gets Johnston County students out of the classroom

Kids at Johnston County middle schools are learning about soil, trees, water and wildlife by getting their hands dirty outside the classroom.

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Kids at Johnston County middle schools are preparing for an environmental competition by getting outside the classroom and into the woods. 

The students are training for the North Carolina Envirothon, the yearly statewide event where middle school teams show off their environmental knowledge for a chance to win scholarships.

Instead of learning about nature in a traditional classroom setting, the students are getting their hands dirty examining soil, trees, water and wildlife in pharmaceutical company Grifols' environmental education area behind a Clayton plant. Susan Woodard of the Johnston County Soil and Water Conservation District says this hands-on approach is key to learning.  

"They actually go out in the field, in the woods and actually apply what they learn in the classroom and identify things in the environment," she said.

For McGees Crossroads sixth-grader Michayla Bedall, that's the best part. 

"Instead of being in a classroom and having to watch videos and see pictures, you can see it in person," she said.

But exploring outside isn't the only way the middle schoolers are preparing for the competition. Students from Clayton High School are also teaching the young students at the soil station.

Dan Mazer teaches at Clayton High School and says it's a way to reinforce learning in both groups of students. 

"Their teachers have already been teaching this material," he said. "Now they get to actually come out and practice it."

This year's Envirothon is scheduled for late April in Burlington, N.C., and while the goal is to win the scholarships and awards, instructors hope that preparing for the event creates a lifetime love for the land.






Brian Shrader, Reporter
Tom Normanly, Photographer
Adrianne Haney, Web Editor

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