Louisiana 4-H team places fifth in national wildlife competition

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Tassin, Mark G., Morris, Paul F.  |  7/25/2009 1:55:33 AM

News Release Distributed 07/24/09

ZWOLLE, La. – A Louisiana 4-H team placed fifth overall in the national 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program held July 20-22 at the Wildwood Resort.

The 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program teaches wildlife and fisheries habitat management to youth, said Paul Morris, LSU AgCenter county agent in Sabine Parish and co-chair of the event.

The major parts of the competition include identifying wildlife animals and writing a management plan, Morris said.

The Louisiana team also placed ninth in the written portion of the event.

Team members were Micah Patout and Ridge Miguez of Iberia Parish, Jeremy Dixon of West Feliciana Parish and Deanna Jason of West Baton Rouge Parish.

In individual competition, Patout placed sixth and Miguez placed eighth in overall individual scoring. In addition, Patout placed eighth in knowledge and activities quizzes and 10th in wildlife management practices score sheets. Migeuz placed fifth in oral defense.

Patout also won honorable mention in an essay challenge, using Lake Providence author Shellie Rushing Tomlinson’s “Remembering Bull Run Road” as source material. Participants were required to write an essay about a land feature, seasonal event or occupation that influenced their lives and include land management practices in it.

“I am interested in biology and working in this field,” Patout said. “My father works for Wildlife and Fisheries.”

The team was coached by LSU AgCenter agents Monique Sanchez of Iberia Parish and André Brock of West Feliciana Parish.

Sixteen teams from across the United States attended the competition, in which participants were introduced to a tract of land and asked to identify the practices they would use to manage the tract in the best possible way for a selected set of wildlife species, Morris said.

Each team was required to write a wildlife management plan, taking into account the defined objectives of the landowner and making compromises and concessions in developing the best plan possible for a set of two or three wildlife species, Morris said.

Teams also took a written test and wildlife identification test. And in oral defense, participants were given five questions based on a wildlife scenario and study area.

“These programs can help you get a flavor of careers you want to investigate,” Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor, told the participants. “I really hope many of you consider a career in science.”

Scott Durham with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries told the group healthy forests add to quality of life. “You guys are aware of that, or you wouldn’t be here,” he said.

Durham was among speakers during an educational day that included discussions of fisheries management and wildlife damage control, trapping, deer management and bird identification at Hodges Gardens State Park near Florien.

Morris said the Zwolle Tamale Fiesta, Toledo Lake Association, Sabine Parish Chamber of Commerce, Sabine Farm Bureau and Sabine Parish School Board contributed more than $25,000 in sponsorships for the event.

“The Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program national contest is a tremendous opportunity for youth throughout the nation to come together and build on the essential elements of 4-H youth development,” said Dr. Mark Tassin, head of 4-H Youth Development for the LSU AgCenter.

“Through teamwork they build a stronger sense of belonging. By competing and evaluating all aspects of wildlife management, they develop mastery through practice and competition,” Tassin said. “Finally, by making decisions required by the contest, building consensus and practicing leadership, these young 4-H youth develop a sense of independence.

“Only one team will be national champions in the contest, but all of these youth are winners and will take with them positive life experiences that will help them become successful adults,” he said.

About 10,000 4-H’ers nationwide participate in the Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program.

Julie Barrios, Sabine Parish 4-H Junior Leader president, concluded the awards ceremony by telling her fellow 4-H’ers from across the country that she hoped they learned to “let the good times roll. Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Mary Ann Van Osdell

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