The Envirothon originated in Pennsylvania in 1978. It soon spread across the state with schools and local Soil & Water Conservation Districts until other states began Envirothons of their own. By 1990, several states were participating and a decision was made to send out a letter to every state to try to get enough interest to make a national competition from a grassroots start.
The NC Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts received the letter and asked the NC Division of Soil & Water Conservation to send a representative to a meeting in October of 1990 in Pennsylvania to find out more information. Division employee, Steve Bennett attended the meeting and reported back to the Association on his findings, leading the Association to decide to adopt the program here in North Carolina.
The Association’s partners, the NC Division of Soil & Water Conservation (at that time under the NC Department of Natural & Environmental Resources) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service agreed to provide resources as available to assist in getting this program up and running.
The Association appointed a sub-committee under its Education Committee to develop the program and to run the program on behalf of the Association. This sub-committee was called the Envirothon Committee. The first committee members included Gail Hughes, Millie Langley, Sheila Jones, Susan Woodard, Steve Bennett (from the Division) and Kenneth Langley, a District Supervisor from Johnston SWCD as Chairman. They were later inducted in the NC Envirothon Hall of Fame.
The first N.C. Envirothon was held at Camp Homestead in Franklin County, where 15 teams registered with 5 teams participating.
The State Envirothon Committee received a $25,000.00 grant from the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation to put together a High School Envirothon Resource Curriculum book. This book was put in place for the 1999 competition.
With the number of teams at the state Competition growing, the Envirothon Committee decided to form eight Area Envirothons, one in each of the Association’s eight Areas. These Area Envirothons would serve as training grounds and would streamline the number of teams going to the state competition. It was decided to send the top seven highest scoring teams from each Area and the highest scoring FFA team to the state competition.
The Envirothon Committee also voted to start a middle school Envirothon for Middle School students. Currently, the NCF Envirothon is only for high school students.
The National FFA developed an Environment and Natural Resource Career Development Event for FFA teams and they decided to use our competition to choose their team going to their national competition.
The first Middle School Team competition was held with 26 teams competing.
The Envirothon Committee received a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to do a Middle school Envirothon Resource Curriculum book, which was put in place for the 2004-2005 competition.
The Envirothon Committee voted to add the Oral Presentation component to the high school competition. This would align the competition more closely with the national competition, the North American Envirothon sponsored by Canon.
The NC Envirothon competition celebrated its 25th Anniversary!
NC hosted the NCF - Envirothon at NC State University. The 2019 theme representative of North Carolina’s agricultural diversity was “Agriculture and the Environment: Knowledge and Technology to Feed the World.” The competition consisted of 53 teams, with the team from Jamestown High School of Williamsburg, Virginia taking top honors. North Carolina’s team consisting of High Rock Home School students from Davidson County placed second. The Envirothon Committee and a host of volunteers spent countless hours making this event a huge success!
The 2020 Envirothon event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been the only time an event has cancelled since NC began the Envirothon competition.
1991 NC Envirothon competition
1999 FFA developed national competition for FFA teams.
Middle School Division, 2000-present
Oral Presentation component, 2010-present
2019 NCF-Envirothon teams group photo taken during a visit to NC Coast.