NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) –The 23rd annual Coastal Environthon kicked off Tuesday morning at the Cool Springs Environmental Education center in Craven County.

Getting their hands dirty while learning all about the environment. That’s the goal. The event teaches about soils, forestry, wildlife, aquatics and current environmental issues.

Sabra Cahoon, the chairman of the Coastal Environthon, said she wants the kids to have fun getting their hands dirty and to teach them about what is going on under their feet and around them.

“It is our jobs to be stewards of the land, and it is always good for students at a young age to understand that they also have an impact on our environment and they are our future,” Cahoon said. “So it is their responsibility to learn it, as it is our responsibility to teach them.”

Middle and high school teams from 28 counties in Eastern North Carolina competed against each other for one day. The top seven teams of each area will qualify to compete at the State Envirothon in Burlington in April. High school students who score high on the exam after the Envirothon will qualify for a scholarship for any university or program at the state-level competition.

Event sponsors included: Smithfield, Weyerhaeuser, Nucor, American Skin, Agri Supply, Ace Hardware, Coastal Plains Insurance Services, and the NC Soil &Water conservation districts.