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Wildlife and Recreation Management Career Development Event

story by Randy Henry

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) co-sponsored the 11th annual Area 5 Wildlife and Recreation Management Career Development Event held on April 10, 2012, at the Holt River Ranch in Palo Pinto County, Texas.

The regional contest was sponsored in conjunction with the Texas Wildlife Alliance for Youth (WAY). The program's objective is to support and promote proper management and conservation of wildlife and natural resources. WAY is a wildlife and management career development program for FFA and 4-H Club youth in Texas.

A total of 62 teams with 222 students competed in this year's contest, which was the largest student attendance in the event's history. The student attendance record has been broken in 2011 and 2012.

"Last year, we broke a record for students participating in the 11th annual area contest with 208 students, and it happened again this year," said Carolann Corado, Manager for Upper Elm-Red local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in Bowie, Texas. "The groups of students were very large, and they came more educated and ready for this year's competition. Each year we find the students being well prepared for the regional competition."

Participation in the regional contest requires endorsement from the local SWCD where the competing team is located, and is in collaboration with the local FFA and 4-H Clubs with one or more of the SWCDs.

At this year's contest, Holt River Ranch, a 3,000-acre working cattle ranch near the Brazos River hosted the event and has been in the same family since 1906. Dr. Glenn Rogers, DVM, is the fifth-generation owner of the ranch and is carrying on a tradition of land stewardship.

"Hosting this event was a very small token of my appreciation to the NRCS for all their valuable information and support over the years," said Dr. Rogers. "I have relied heavily on numerous individuals in NRCS for making significant improvements in range quality and providing technical assistance to our ranching operation."

Moreover, high school students learn management skills, and are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge. The students contemplate several areas in the competition, which are used in all regional and state contests. These areas include plant identification, plant preferences, biological facts, habitat evaluation and management, fish and game laws, safety, techniques, as well as compass and pacing.

The regional winners included FFA Texas Areas Four, Five, and Eight, and many 4-H Club teams competing against each other. Following the regional contest at the Holt River Ranch, the winning teams attended the state competition in Childress.

Overall, the top three regional FFA team winners were Jacksboro (365 points), Cleburne (362 points) and Salado (348 points) Independent School Districts respectively, along with Jim Wentrcek (Salado) taking first place as the individual winner with a total of 128 points. The 4-H Club's top three regional team winners included McLennan Co. (258 points), Shackelford Co. (239 points), and Freestone Co. (223 points). M.D. Tucker from McLennan Co. won the individual competition with 97 points.

FFA Texas Areas Four, Five and Eight team winners were Jacksboro (365 points), Brock (343 points), and Cleburne (362 points). The FFA Texas individual winners included Cameron Cooper (Area 4/Jacksboro - 127 points), Colin Cooper (Area 5/Brock - 122 points), and Jim Wentrcek (Area 8/Salado - 128 points).

Sponsors teaming up to support the regional contest included NRCS, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and numerous personnel from several SWCDs. The SWCDs included the Jack, Denton County, Upper Elm-Red, Young County, Parker County, Ellis-Prairie, McLennan County, Fannin, and Palo Pinto.

Crowd in Veranda This student found some shade while answering test questions at the biological facts station.

Some of the 222 students gather for instructions at the 12th annual Area 5 Wildlife and Recreational Management CDE held on April 10th at the Holt River Ranch in Palo Pinto County, Texas. The contest broke a record with 62 teams entering the regional contest.

While getting out of the sun and heat, this student found some shade while answering test questions at the biological facts station during the 12thannual Wildlife and Recreational Management CDE competition on April 10th at the Holt River Ranch in Palo Pinto County, Texas.

With a record-setting number of students registered, the stations were crowded as this one at the techniques station. Joe Ray Burkett (center, pointing) instructs students at a plant identification station.

With a record-setting number of students registered for this year's Area 5 Wildlife and Recreational Management CDE contest, the stations were crowded as this one at the techniques station. Last year's registration brought 51 teams with 208 students that remained the record attendance until 2012 with 62 teams and 222 students took on the competition heading to the state competition.

Joe Ray Burkett, center pointing, of the Jacksboro Soil and Water Conservation District, instructs one of two large groups of students out assignments for the plant identification station during the 12th annual Area 5 Wildlife and Recreational Management CDE at the Holt River Ranch on April 10th in Palo Pinto County, Texas.

These students found it challenging to identify plant species within 30 seconds at this plant identification station.

The last station of the 12th annual Wildlife and Recreation Management CDE was plant identification, and these students found it challenging since they only had 30 seconds to identify each plant species marked by the flag along the course.