It may sound like a hoedown, but it's actually an environmental throwdown. Nine schools from across the state are competing in the Vermont Envirothon.
"We have been meeting after school for probably the past two weeks to get ready for it and we have been practicing identifying trees and stuff like that," said Leah Rogstad of Mill River Union High School.
But forestry is only one aspect of the contest. The kids are also tested on soil, aquatics, wildlife and must give an oral presentation on a topic they have been researching.
"There is a current issue topic that changes each year this year it is salt and freshwater estuaries," said Carrie Riker, the Vermont Envirothon Coordinator.
It's an event that immerses kids in the natural science they are studying. And organizers say the chance to be the best among their peers is a great incentive.
"Our goals are to get kids psyched about the natural world, connected to the natural world," Riker said.
Another goal is to open up opportunities for future career paths. Kayla Ray of Essex is considering a double major in the Environmental Sciences. Her team has won this event past. She says it all about doing your homework.
"This year we researched the Winooski River. Two years ago, we studied a habitat block within Essex and last year we learned a lot about the ground water in Essex. So it is a way for us to get connected with the community," Ray said.
And it's a way to get them connected to the outside world, knowledge the kids admit they lacked.
"Before this year, I would walk around the forest and look at a tree and say, oh, that's a tree, great. But now I can actually be like, wow, that's a red maple. And it makes you appreciate just walking in the woods a lot more and just seeing nature," Rogstad said.
What better place to do that than a camp overlooking beautiful Lake Fairlee, no matter the weather.
"It's a lot of fun," Ray said. "Usually the weather is a lot better on test days."
Vermont students have been competing in the Envirothon since 1996.
The team from Essex won the competition Tuesday and they will go on to represent Vermont in the international competition in New Brunswick Canada this July.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:16 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:16:19 GMT
Jeremy Dodge doesn't want to leave his childhood home in East Montpelier. But his days on Foster Road are numbered. "It's my homestead," he said. "You know, I planned on dying here." That plan changedMore >>
A Vt. man about to lose his property at a tax sale sold it to Gov. Peter Shumlin, but now claims the state's leader took advantage of him. The governor says the allegations are misleading and he offered his neighbor a fair price.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 12:21 PM EDT2013-05-22 16:21:11 GMT
The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a Vermont case about limiting search warrants in an attempt to protect privacy. The Chittenden County prosecutor's office and the Vermont attorney general appealedMore >>
The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a Vermont case about limiting search warrants in an attempt to protect privacy.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:21 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:21:29 GMT
At this shop in the picturesque town of Woodstock, and for those who work in 140 pharmacies scattered throughout Vermont, the workload is about to increase. New requirements are set to take effect, mostMore >>
Lawmakers prescribed a host of changes to combat Vermont's growing problem with hard drugs. The safety measures will now mean longer wait times at the pharmacy.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 9:45 AM EDT2013-05-22 13:45:46 GMT
Sheriffs say a body found floating in the waters off the Florida Keys is that of a Vermonter. The Monroe County Sheriff's office says early Sunday morning, two people fishing off a bridge reported seeingMore >>
Sheriffs say a body found floating in the waters off the Florida Keys is that of a Vermonter.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:24 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:24:48 GMT
Vermont denied a license for a new health insurance company. The Vermont Health Co-op opened for business last fall. The nonprofit company was created to take part in the new health care exchange underMore >>
Vermont has denied a license for a new health insurance company.More >>