BROOKSHIRE Young 4-H conservationists from across the state tested their wildlife and habitat management skills here April 23 during the 2005 Statewide Texas Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program’s annual contest.
The event was hosted by the Katy Prairie Conservancy. Texas Cooperative Extension and the Texas Wildlife Association sponsored the event.
Dr. Jim Cathey, Uvalde-based Extension wildlife specialist and the program’s state coordinator, said the contest allows 4-H’ers to showcase their wildlife and habitat management knowledge.
“The program and accompanying contests use the framework of wildlife conservation to help youths develop social, leadership and decision-making skills,” Cathey said. “Participants also learn the value of teamwork and gain confidence in oral and written communication.”
Contestants were scored individually, and as members of junior and senior teams, on their ability to evaluate important foods and habitats of a variety of animals. Judging was done both at a physical site and from aerial photos.
Other aspects of the competition included specific management scenarios and the development of an urban wildlife management plan.
Top scoring Junior Division individuals were Patrick Jones (first place), Waller County and Dakota Fleming (second place) and Amanda Moyer (third place), Bell County.
Top scoring seniors were Joseph Jones (first place), Adam Magstadt (second place), Waller County, and Casey Lange (third place), Fayette County.
The winning junior and senior teams came from Waller County.
In addition to Patrick Jones, junior team members from Waller County included Dylan Froman, Andrew Grove and Miranda Jones.
The senior Waller County team won the wildlife evaluation contest and the Byron D. Wright Memorial Trophy. Along with Joseph Jones and Magstadt, senior team members from Waller County included Whitney Laas and Blake Froman.
The senior team will compete at the national level Aug. 3-7 in Little Rock, Ark.
The wildlife habitat evaluation program was first developed in the late 1970s by extension wildlife specialists in Tennessee. Twenty-six states now use the curriculum.
The Katy Prairie Conservancy was chosen as this year’s site, because it represents a quality Gulf Coastal Plains habitat, according to Cathey.
The contest will revolve annually among the state’s eco-regions, so participants may experience many different habitat types.
“I am proud of the parents and coaches involved with this contest for their commitment to their children and the encouragement they provide to learn something new,” Cathey said.
“I believe this program will give our youth a solid foundation of knowledge they can use to make wise decisions regarding the use of our natural resources. The steering committee and I plan to promote more participation in these competitions, and we are already planning to have a third contest next year.”
For more information call Cathey at (830) 278-9151 or visit the Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program’s Web site at: http://whep.tamu.edu .