Students Talk the Environment at the 6th Annual High School Environmental Debate

It is extremely important to provide our youth with healthy and educational outlets for expression. The Valparaiso Chain of Lakes Watershed Group accomplished this during the 6th Annual High School Environmental Debate held on March 16 at the Porter County Administration Center. The debate featured Public Forum debate teams from Chesterton and Valparaiso High School.

Chesterton debate coach Chris Lowery and Valparaiso debate coach Chris Waters welcomed the public by introducing the debaters and the topic at hand, which was factory farming. Factory farming is an occurrence that is prevalent in our area, with much controversy surrounding it. Debaters had the opportunity to support themselves not only with statistical facts, but also with several examples of its harms and/or benefits across the United States.

Waters said, "Allowing these students to implement and showcase their debate skills and knowledge in a real world situation is extremely beneficial. Additionally, the students are able to draw attention to an issue that needs light shed on it. Coach Lowery and I are both very proud of our students!"

Chesterton High School Junior Eric Richardson and Senior Savannah Tipton represented the team in affirmation of the resolution. They argued that factory farming provided new job opportunities and that it was necessary to feed the growing American population.

Valparaiso Junior Maddie Hathoot and Freshman Zoe Crim stood in firm negation. They argued that factory farming’s harmful environmental effects are not justified by the economic benefits. Both teams competed at Indiana State Debate Tournament, which was held at Kokomo earlier this winter.

Tipton said, “It's great to be able to demonstrate our abilities in front of the public. It's important to be able to educate others about a topic that is prominent in our area."

The organization that makes this all possible is Valparaiso Chain of Lakes Watershed Group. Chain of Lakes is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization with the mission to protect and maintain lakes and surrounding environs through education, conservation, pollution monitoring, research, and invasive species control. They are committed to waste reduction, recycling and the use of best land-use practices to ensure that our lakes remain quality habitats for fish, wildlife, and human recreational use.

The event ended with the opportunity for the spectators to ask questions, followed by a dinner at Greek’s Pizzeria, located in downtown Valpo. The event attracted those of all ages, and it was another example of how Northwest Indiana strives to better our community through education, research, and collaboration.