UMN Morris supports youth environmental education in Minnesota

UMN Morris Office of Communication & Marketing

Each year in Minnesota, the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts supports a long-standing youth environmental education competition, called the Minnesota Envirothon

The competition is focused on delivering a presentation in response to an “issue scenario” focused on an environmental topic. Teams of students from high schools across Minnesota gather at unique locations to compete. One Minnesota team is selected to travel to New York to participate in the national competition.

A group of five high school students huddled around a piece of paper.  They are outside in a grassy field.  There is another group of students behind them.


Stevens Soil and Water Conservation District (Stevens SWCD) education coordinator, Judy Johnston, provides organizational leadership to the statewide competition and works with environmental professionals to craft the issue scenario. 

Johnston shared, “For the past two years we have worked with the UMN Morris Office of Sustainability to help us craft the issue scenario. UMN Morris is recognized as a sustainable energy and adaptation leader in Minnesota. In 2023, the topic was 'adapting to climate change in Minnesota.' This year the topic is 'renewable energy for a sustainable future in Minnesota.' Teams really enjoyed the competition last year and we are excited about this year!”

The 2024 Minnesota Envirothon will be held at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minnesota. About 25+ teams are expected to participate. 

UMN Morris sustainability director, Troy Goodnough, explained, “This year students will have an opportunity to think about the social, economic and environmental questions facing northern Minnesota. Teams will imagine that they are a consulting team charged with helping communities on the Iron Range explore possibilities for green steel production. This is an exciting time in Minnesota – we have abundant clean energy and iron ore resources in our state. Who knows what the future might look like!”

Previously, Stevens SWCD and UMN Morris worked together on the West Central Minnesota We Are Water initiative, which brought the We Are Water exhibit to Morris and additional programming. UMN Morris faculty, Dr. Roger Rose and his class also did a service-learning project with Stevens SWCD to develop a survey of farmers and landowners to learn more about their farming practices, experiences and attitudes about SWCD programming.