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Wildlife Alliance for Youth in the Texas Panhandle

Wildlife Alliance for Youth in the Texas Panhandle

State Wildlife and Recreation Management Career Development Event

Story by Quenna Terry

The Wildlife Alliance for Youth (WAY) Area 1 competition was an overall success as nine high school teams participated in the 2011 event at the Caprock Canyons State Park on April 12. Over 30 students attended the contest to test their knowledge and skills in wildlife and land management.

First place honors for Area 1 went to Follett High School�s FFA program. Team members were Dustin Shepherd, Dakota Woods, Corey Peil and Chris Bechthold. Cason Hawkins from Valley FFA won high individual, and five FFA teams from Follett, Canadian, Wellington, Valley and Wheeler High Schools qualified for state competition and will travel to Breckenridge to compete on May 10.

Contest rules require students to compete in eight different field station sites that included: wildlife plant identification, wildlife plant preferences, compass and pacing, wildlife biological facts and techniques, game and fishing laws, hunter and boater safety and habitat evaluation and management. The wildlife area contest course was designed and setup the day before the event.

Several USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) district conservationists helped in the contest preparation and set up. Jonathan Parr, Quanah; Si Causey, Paducah; Weldon Sears, Clarendon; and Royce Siebman, Childress, prepared the wildlife plant identification area and assisted in the coordination of other field stations.

�It�s always a pleasure to work with young people interested in wildlife and land management,� said Weldon Sears, district conservationist for NRCS. �The students are serious about the competition and they strive to do their best at the contests.�
The competition offers students the opportunity to earn scholarships for higher education while testing their skills in natural resources and range management.

To participate in the contest, ag teachers familiarize students with the purpose of the federal, state and private agencies and organizations efforts in communicating proper management of wildlife and natural resources.

Instructors emphasized the importance of habitat requirements for selected wildlife species in Texas. They reinforce the knowledge of game, hunting, angling and boating laws, and they teach students the importance of safety while enjoying the outdoors.

Many volunteers gave their time in support of the students. WAY is a partnership of representatives from the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Texas Tech University, Texas 4-H and Texas FFA, Texas A&M systems, Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) representative Jack Foote awards high point individual Casen Hawkins from Valley High School FFA at the 2011 WAY contest in Area 1. Follett High School FFA students win first place at the WAY contest in Area 1. (L to R) Dustin Sheperd (2nd high point individual), Chris Bechthold, Corey Peil, Dakota Woods (4th high point individual) and Follet�s Agriculture Teacher, Jim Self.

Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) representative Jack Foote awards high point individual Casen Hawkins from Valley High School FFA at the 2011 WAY contest in Area 1.

Follett High School FFA students win first place at the WAY contest in Area 1. (L to R) Dustin Sheperd (2nd high point individual), Chris Bechthold, Corey Peil, Dakota Woods (4th high point individual) and Follet�s Agriculture Teacher, Jim Self.