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.
Thursday, December 12 2013 9:24 AM EST2013-12-12 14:24:25 GMT
Family and friends of victims Amanda Murphy and Jason Timmons -- gathered in Wilder Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of the recently engaged couple and their unborn child. MoreMore >>
Family and friends of victims Amanda Murphy and Jason Timmons gathered in Wilder Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of the recently engaged couple and their unborn child.More >>
Thursday, December 12 2013 9:25 AM EST2013-12-12 14:25:33 GMT
Vermont State Police say they're looking for a thief who made off with 50 gallons of diesel fuel. Authorities say it happened Wednesday morning at a farm on Shoreham Depot Road in Shoreham. They say anMore >>
Vermont State Police say they're looking for a thief who made off with 50 gallons of diesel fuel.More >>
Thursday, December 12 2013 9:27 AM EST2013-12-12 14:27:53 GMT
Voting ends Thursday on a measure that could decide whether a major industrial wind project in the Northeast Kingdom moves forward. The Seneca Mountain project calls for 20 turbines on ridge lines inMore >>
Voting ends Thursday on a measure that could decide whether a major industrial wind project in the Northeast Kingdom moves forward.More >>
Wednesday, December 11 2013 5:19 PM EST2013-12-11 22:19:28 GMT
Police say they've caught the man wanted for three bank robberies in the Upper Valley. James Oberfeldt, 30, of Claremont, is currently jailed in Massachusetts on a drug charge. Police say he's been identifiedMore >>
Police say they've caught the man wanted for three bank robberies in the Upper Valley.More >>
Wednesday, December 11 2013 6:54 PM EST2013-12-11 23:54:10 GMT
Two men are behind bars after a burglary in St. Albans. Police arrested James Perron, 27, of St. Albans, and Eric Walsh, 34, Tuesday for allegedly stealing a safe containing $15,000 in cash. It happenedMore >>
Two men are behind bars in connection with a burglary in St. Albans.More >>
Wednesday, December 11 2013 7:53 PM EST2013-12-12 00:53:13 GMT
Two Plattsburgh State students are under arrest in connection with a brawl outside a fraternity house. It happened last month outside the Alpha Chi Rho (AXP) house on Brinkerhoff Street. Police say itMore >>
Authorities say allegations of a sexual assault in Plattsburgh led to a brawl. Now, some fraternity brothers are facing charges and more could be coming.More >>