The University Record, April 9, 1996

Grand prize for Envirothon winners: trip on the Laurentian

By Janet N. Mendler
News and Information Services

A trip aboard the U-M research vessel Laurentian awaits the winners of this year's Envirothon, an environmental "Olympics" that pits teams of high school students from across the state in a day-long contest that tests their knowledge of natural and built environments.

The Laurentian is operated by the Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences (CGLAS).

Scheduled for June 1 at the U-M-Dearborn Nature Center, the state Envirothon is expected to draw more than 65 teams, each consisting of four or five students and an adviser, according to Michigan Envirothon director Patricia Ruta Stuber. A team from St. Johns High School north of Lansing won last year's event.

The U-M is donating the trip aboard the Laurentian, an 80-foot ship that sports maize and blue paint and a Block M on its stack, as a means of calling attention to the role of the Great Lakes, the largest system of fresh water on the Earth. The combined drainage basin of the five lakes, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior, is home to 10 percent of the United States and 25 percent of the Canadian population.

Prof. Ted Moore, CGLAS director, and Linda Goad, the Center's marine superintendent, says they are delighted with the award. "It meshes nicely with ongoing CGLAS statewide educational endeavors," says Goad, who will serve as chief scientist on the Envirothon cruise.

"The University is pleased to provide a research trip aboard the Laurentian to the state winners of the Envirothon," says Walter Harrison, vice president for university relations. "Environmental research and education are essential to the continued well-being of the people of Michigan, and the University plays a leading role in that respect as evidenced by the work of the Laurentian and Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Sciences."

In order to win the trip, and to represent the state in national competition, the students must first test their knowledge of forestry, wildlife, aquatics and wetlands, sustainable agriculture, soils, energy and the environment in an outdoor, hands-on contest.

According to Stuber, the focus is on high school students "because they will soon be making decisions in the work place and in home lifestyles that affect the state's resources."

Sponsors of this year's Envirothon are the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Consumers Power Company, Detroit Edison Foundation, Van Buren Soil Conservation District, Michigan Integrated Food and Farming Systems, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Association of Soil Conservation Districts.