Envirothon is North America’s largest and fastest growing environmental education program. The program was first established in Pennsylvania, in 1979, under the name Environmental Olympics. It was sponsored by The Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts – an organization which works to enhance locally led efforts that support the wise use of the state’s natural resources. The following year the name was shorted to Envio-Oylmpics and over the next several years the program continued to grow. In June 1984, the first Pennsylvania State Enviro-Olympics was held, which saw six teams compete. The following year, at the second Pennsylvania State Enviro-Oylmpics, 15 teams competed. It was not until 1988 that the program got its current name: Envirothon. Massachusetts and Ohio were the next two states to get involved, with all three states competing at the first National Envirothon in October of 1988.
By the early 1990’s a National Envirothon committee was formed and the program was spreading all over the states. In 1991, at the 4th National Envirothon, Nova Scotia was proud to be the first Canadian team to participate. In 1997, for the 10th anniversary of the Envirothon, two other Canadian provinces (Manitoba and Ontario), joined Nova Scotia at the National competition in its birth-state of Pennsylvania. The following year the program received a very generous sponsorship proposal from Canon, USA, which provided the National Envirothon name change to the Canon Envirothon.
In 2000, Envirothon lived up to the moniker of being North America’s largest high school environmental and natural resources competition by holding its first event in Canada. Nova Scotia was thrilled to be the first Canadian host. The 13th annual Envirothon saw 49 teams, from 41 states and 8 provinces, compete at Acadia University in Wolfville.
The 2002 Canon Envirothon was not only a milestone because it was the first time more than 50 teams were expected to participate (only 49 ended up competing), but also because it was the first time that the Nova Scotia team placed in the top ten. The following year in Maryland, Nova Scotia placed in the top ten again.Both times, the team representing Nova Scotia was Digby Regional High School. At the time, the Digby team was advised by Greg Turner and Anne Littlewood; over ten years later, Greg is still proud to be co-advising the Digby team.
In 2006, the Canon Envirothon came back across the border to Canada and was held at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Five years later, in 2011, the competition returned to Canada once again, being hosted in Sackville, New Brunswick. The 2012 Canon Envirothon celebratedthe 25th anniversary of the program, held in Pennsylvania which was very appropriatesince the program began in Pennsylvania.
Due to sponsorship changes in 2013, the program’s name changed once again, to the North American Envirothon. The 2013 North American Envirothon was held in Bozeman, Montana with 55 states and provinces participating. In the latter half of 2013, the program saw more sponsorship changes, eventually leading to its current delivery and coordination by the National Conservation Foundation.
Unfortunately, due to funding issues, the 2014 North American Envirothon was cancelled. The National Conservation Foundation took this opportunity to focus on the re-organization of the program for a stronger future. The 2015 North American competition will be held in Springfield, Missouri; this will be the second time Missouri has hosted the North American event.
The Nova Scotia Envirothon program began in 1993 and the first team to represent Nova Scotia the North American level was Cobequid Education Center (Truro). Over the next few years the program continued to grow. From 1993 to 1998 the Provincial Envirothon was held at the National Resourced Education Center in Musquodoboit. In 1999 the event moved to Lunenburg and has seen been moving around the province over the past decade and a half. When Nova Scotia hosted the 2000 Canon Envirothon, Digby Regional High School proudly presented Nova Scotia at the competition.