Using fake bear spray, dissecting a live crab, counting tree rings and much more were all part of the 2015 annual Envirothon.

The local Envirothon is a learning experience for students taking the natural resources class at Kodiak High School and those involved in Future Farmers of America, about 60 in all.

It’s also practice for the students who will be heading off to the state Envirothon in Anchorage next week in hopes of doing well enough to participate in the international Envirothon competition in the summer.

The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center host the Envirothon with three stations at each location: forestry, bear safety, wildlife, soils, aquatics and marine.

It’s been the project of Jane Eisemann, the natural resources teacher, who is retiring this year, said Shelly Lawson with the refuge.

“It was Jane’s idea,” Lawson said. “Hopefully, someone will follow in her steps next year.”

At the forestry station on Wednesday, a small group of students were handed tests on clipboards and given tape measures and clinometers to go out and measure trees.

They measured the girth of the tree and then walked 50 feet away from the tree and used the clinometer to measure the angles from 50 feet away to the top and bottom of the tree. Using math, the students could then calculate the approximate height of the tree.

Afterward, students counted the number of rings in a “cookie” slice of tree to determine the tree’s age.

The wildlife test asked questions about bird banding and carrying capacity.

Annie Looman, a senior, has participated in Envirothon all four years of high school, including one year when the Alaska team made it to the international competition.

“For the international competition, we divided all the stations up into groups and I thought I got the short straw and I had the soils, which I really wasn’t interested in it and actually that’s my favorite station now,” Looman said. “Just how much what’s under our feet impacts everything else and how it effects fish in the ocean and birds and agriculture. It was really interesting.”

This year, Looman will be participating as an individual at the state Envirothon rather than with the Kodiak team. That’s because the international Envirothon takes place in the summer when Looman will be preparing for college, where she plans to put her Envirothon experience to good use.

“I’m going to UAF for a year and hoping to exchange to Bozeman,” Looman said. “I’m looking at doing natural resources management with education.”

Julie Herrmann is a staff reporter at the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at 486-3227 ext. 627.

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