Frankie Lineberger, an Envirothon alumna, works on her husband’s family farm in Gaston County, North Carolina. She and her husband, who is also an Envirothon alumnus, sell most of their crops at their roadside stand.
Lineberger first became involved with Envirothon in sixth grade and continued her involvement throughout the rest of her middle- and high-school years. In middle school, she competed in the area and state competitions. Her team went to the North American Envirothon three times during her high school involvement.
Lineberger recently spoke with NACD about the National Conservation Foundation (NCF), its goals and its legacy.
How did your involvement in the Envirothon program influence your career goals?
I majored in natural resources in college. I think that was in large part due to Envirothon, because I was very interested in the material. As a part of that major, I got into the local food space, and I learned about how local food and local farming dovetail with a lot of environmental goals. It is something that is attainable and something that everyday people can do to help the environment. That is why, I think, this job appeals to me.
Why is supporting NCF and the Envirothon program important to you?
Sustainability really influences every decision that I make on a daily basis. It influenced my career choices. It influences whether I use the dryer or hang my clothes out on the line to dry. It influences my choices about which products I buy, if they are local, and how they are packaged. It influences how much effort I make to recycle things, and how I cook at home to avoid Styrofoam takeout containers. There are so many little daily things that we can do to reduce our impact on the environment, but without a good understanding of what those things are and the impacts of your individual decisions, people don’t think through the consequences of their actions. If they had more education in this realm, they would understand more about the trade-offs.
Because Envirothon trains you in so many different areas of sustainability, I think it helps you to have a big picture perspective of how your actions can impact a wide variety of things, like how it can impact wildlife, soils and forestry. If you just read a random article in a newspaper, you are not going to get that kind of big picture understanding.
Why is it important for us to support the next generation of conservation leaders?
They are going to be voters, they are going to be shoppers, and they are going to be making decisions about what careers they go into. A lot of sustainably-minded people want companies to make more sustainable decisions, but how that works is that the people running the company have to have a good understanding of sustainability, why it matters, and what constitutes a more sustainable decision. So, one day, when the kids are running the companies, if they have been through Envirothon, and if they understand why it could be important, then I think they would be more likely to vote for more sustainable practices.
How does diversity strengthen conservation as a field and as a community?
There is a good bit of research that says that having a diverse group of people leads to better decision-making and better teamwork. What we are really trying to do with conservation and sustainability in a lot of ways is to change the culture of the mainstream United States to be more long-term thinking – to think about the impacts of our actions for future generations. I think that is something that other cultures already have built into their culture. We have something to learn from other cultures in that way.
In your opinion, what is the impact of the NCF-Envirothon program?
When I was in Envirothon, I learned all kinds of stuff and memorized all kinds of facts. I spent a lot of time reading, and if there hadn’t been Envirothon, there is a good chance I would have been on a screen instead. It helped me in my school. When I was in AP Environmental Science and AP Biology, I already knew a lot of the curriculum, because I had been exposed to it in Envirothon. I think it really helped me to get good grades in my classes and to succeed in school. When you are reading the Envirothon manual, all of that is high-level reading. I think that helped me to take the SAT and any other standardized tests.
Why should today’s students choose to pursue conservation as a field of study?
I think it is easy to see that conservation is a global need. We are at a time when a lot of people can identify the problems of the environment, but we are still definitely in the phase of trying to think up workable solutions and trying to scale those solutions. That is going to be a lot of work.
“The only way that we are going to succeed is if people understand the problems and care enough to think up solutions to those problems.”
Why should individuals donate to this campaign and help support the Envirothon program?
Envirothon touches on several different goals that donors might have. It touches on sustainability and conservation, but it also touches on students and extra-curricular activities. It touches on getting children outside. It touches on providing merit scholarships. Since Envirothon is open to public schools, it is open to students from a wide variety of backgrounds, including underprivileged students. When you are looking for an organization to donate to, it is not always easy to find a cause that touches on so many important aspects.
Please help support conservation leaders by donating to the #FutureFocused campaign! As we prepare for a new 2021 NGLI cohort and the rescheduled 2021 NCF-Envirothon competition in Lincoln, Nebraska, set to be held in July 2021, your financial support is needed to help keep these programs moving forward.
Every contribution matters, and your support will be matched dollar-for-dollar throughout the campaign.