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Wildlife Alliance for Youth brings competition to West Texas

Angelo State University hosted the annual Wildlife Alliance for Youth (WAY) contest. For the past 20 years, this contest has offered opportunities for 4-H and FFA students to apply their knowledge of wildlife management through identifying plant species, proper habitat management practices, safety procedures, game laws, and management techniques.

"Angelo State University has hosted the Region II Wildlife Contest each year since the contest began. Many of the students that have competed in the past contests, have gone onto college to pursue a degree in agriculture, and have developed into Range and Wildlife Specialist across Texas," said Dr. Cody Scott, professor and research scientist, Department of Agriculture, Angelo State University.

This year, records were set with approximately 210 youth participating with 36 teams. This competition gives teams experience for the State competition which will be held on April 24, 2018 at the Texas Tech University Center at Junction. This competition requires skills and allows interested youth to gain practical experience catapulting them into a college degree or career field in agriculture and natural resources management.

The Area II first place winner was Wall High School followed by Sonora, Anson, Denver City, and Veribest. Overall high score of Area II went to Caleb Butler of Wall followed by Hunter Teplicek of Wall, Isabella Samaniego of Sonora, Justiss Cowan of Anson, and Reagan Owen of Sonora.

"Every year I come to this event and I see the future of agriculture and conservation and I know our future is looking bright because these teams always impress me with their professionalism with their knowledge base at such a high level," said David Embry, Tom Green Soil and Water Conservation District technician.

The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) is the lead sponsor but relies on many other sponsors. The Association of Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and the Texas Education Agency, along with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), all partner in the success of the youth organization.

Area sponsors including many NRCS staff were able to set up the contest, run contest stations, lead groups, and provide support to keep this contest a success with continued participation and growth. The NRCS is proud to assist with events like these knowing that these are our future farmers or ranchers, employees, partners, and colleagues.

Wildlife Alliance for Youth brings competition to West Texas, Donnie Lunsford, USDA-NRCS Public Affairs Specialist (2018, April)