Ecology contest 2022, regional round
The regional round of the 28th Ecological Contest for the Hradec Králové Region took place at the A Rocha Eco-centre in Dobré from 2-3 November 2022. This year’s theme was Species Conservation and 12 three-member teams from seven high schools competed to secure a place in the national round.
The competition actually started 14 days earlier with a homework assignment. The teams had to discover a valuable area in their surroundings where a specially protected species of animal or plant could be found and draw up a simplified management plan, on the basis of which a new small-scale SPA (Special Protection Area) could be proposed. The participants searched for valuable natural areas, consulted with experts and worked hard on their presentations. Some took advantage of the autumn holidays but for some, the time off complicated their work.
The first task, unrelated to the contest itself, was to arrive at the Keith Morris Eco-centre: a challenge with only four minutes to change buses in Dobruška. Fortunately, despite a slight delay of the bus from Hradec Králové, the kind driver of the connecting bus waited and all participants arrived on time.
After registration, the competition started with a one-hour test. The teams had to answer 40 questions, half of which were multiple choice and the other half asking for information from the homework assignment, explanations of concepts from the field of ecology and species protection, and reasons for certain phenomena in nature.
After lunch it was time to present the homework assignments. The jury was surprised and pleased by the professionalism of the students’ performance, the visual impact of the presentations and, of course, by the high quality factual aspect. It is no exaggeration to say there were no bad teams and the jury had no easy task with evaluation.
The competition then continued with a species identification contest. Each team had to write down the generic and specific name for 20 specimens, some of which were ‘only’ a nest or an egg. This task was rated as clearly the most difficult, both by the participants and the teaching supervisors! This was also reflected in the results, with the most successful team scoring 14 points and the least successful scoring 1.
At the end of the first competition day, a surprise awaited the students and their entourage in the form of an evening candlelight vigil at St. Matthew’s Church in Deštné. After a busy day, everyone had the opportunity to quiet down and reflect on God’s creation and the importance of our care for it. In the almost sacred atmosphere, by candlelight and singing Taize songs, the texts of Christian greats were read and the faces of all present reflected the gravity of the moment.
On the second day of the competition, the teams faced a field task – to build one of four specific structures. The teams were randomly assigned a reptile house, a beetle house, a bird house or an insect hotel, and were given two hours to build it on a suitable site and according to a given sketch. They then presented their buildings to the jury and other participants and answered questions about the location suitability, the creatures which would use the structure and the materials used. It was wonderful to see how the different teams managed to organize their work, divide the tasks and work together. The resulting constructions were beautiful, creatively built and purposeful at the same time.
After lunch, the jury made the final evaluation, counted points and prepared the certificates while the participants had a guided tour through the model nature garden.
Afterwards, the results and rankings were announced. Some participants were slightly disappointed; others were excited about their results. In any case, it was a valuable experience for everyone, including the jury and the organizers. The teachers commented that the whole competition was distinguished by a friendly atmosphere, good organization, delicious desserts and student enjoyment, the field task most of all. Only the species identification contest….that should be easier next time.