ČSOP competitions to start in new school year despite coronavirus
As the new school year begins, the Czech Union for Nature Conservation rolls out another year of its time-honoured natural-science competitions, with the Environmental Olympics going into their 26th iteration, whereas the Golden Leaf will be 49 years old already. With a bit of tweaking, both competitions were able to be organized even in the era of coronavirus, especially since they will largely take place outside, in open nature.
In the regional rounds, the 26th Environmental Olympics pits teams of high-school students against each other, which are composed of three members each, while the winners advance to the national round. Most regional rounds will be held in the fall of 2020, which is up to their respective hosts. Of course, everyone perceives the uncertainty surrounding the hygiene restrictions under which the rounds will be allowed to take place, but the Environmental Olympics are safe in the hands of professionals who are ready to adapt. If necessary, individual rounds may be held remotely to adhere to social-distancing rules, or be postponed to the spring of 2021. "However, we all keep our fingers crossed that this will not be necessary, so that students will not only be able to mingle with like-minded peers who take an interest in environmentalism, but also with experts in the field - during the defence of their practical fieldwork, the knowledge exam, the exploration of natural materials, or any of the accompanying talks and excursions," adds Lenka Žaitliková, head of the Office of the ČSOP Youth Association, who is in charge of coordinating the two competitions.
The Golden Leaf competition is kicked off by this year’s first Volunteering Task. Over the course of the year, a total of 4 such Volunteering Tasks will be announced, which may catapult the best team in both categories to the national round. The central pillar of the Golden Leaf – the basic and regional rounds – will take place during the spring of 2021, followed by the national round in the second half of June 2021, in Lubenec (in the Ústí Region). In the Golden Leaf competition, teams of six pupils compete against one another in their age group from 1st to 9th grade. Team members may represent their own school, or another organization working with children and youth (Youth Centres, youth organizations, etc.)
Even though the national coordination of these competitions lies with the ČSOP headquarters, the bulk of organising and implementing them rests on the shoulders of dozens of volunteers in each region. Their ranks are often replenished by alumni who participated as contestants in earlier years, and who are delighted to give back by contributing to the competitions’ success.
Each year, ČSOP announces these competitions alongside the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, which is also giving financial support. Both ČSOP competitions would be unthinkable without their general partner: NET4GAS, s. r. o. We would also like to thank the State Environmental Fund, the forestry organization Lesy České republiky, and the Ministry of the Environment for their kind support.