Louisiana 4-H’ers place third at national wildlife competition

Johnny Morgan  |  8/18/2017 3:28:53 PM

(08/18/17) BATON ROUGE, La. — Members of the Louisiana 4-H wildlife team won third place at the National Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program contest held in Eatonton, Georgia, July 30 to Aug. 2.

In addition to the team placing at such a high level, individual members of the teams all placed in the top 15 in the nation.

Team members included Bridget Seghers, of St. Tammany Parish, who placed second in the nation for high score individual. Thomas Bergeron and Paycen Brouillette, of West Feliciana Parish, placed eighth and 11th respectively, and Haley Farmer, of Sabine Parish, placed 14th.

Coaches for the team were LSU AgCenter and Louisiana Sea Grant fisheries agent Thu Bui and retired LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist Don Reed.

Reed said the team members were “a great bunch of kids to work with” in preparation for the competition.

“This team just had a fabulous attitude toward this competition,” Bui said.

Reed, who has been coaching the teams every year since 1997, said the group this year was the hardest working ever.

“This group had more team comradery than any other, and they know how to have a good time,” Reed said.

The Louisiana 4-H program worked collaboratively with LSU Museum of Natural Sciences staff members to prepare the youth for what to expect at the contest by providing them with the wildlife specimens that could be expected during the wildlife challenge at the national contest, Bui said.

The students received classroom and hands-on, in-the-field training in person and via webinars as part of their preparation.

“In this contest, it is important to learn about the wildlife knowledge, but also to have the clear communication skills to work with each other,” she said.

Seghers said this year’s team has set a new bar, and she hopes future Louisiana teams will have the wildlife knowledge as well as the social skills this team has.

Bergeron said the whole experience has been great and something that he will remember for the rest of his life.

“I plan to become a mentor for other youth interested in the contest and I will be competing in the state 4-H forestry contest at 4-H University next year,” he said.

“Our hard work paid off,” Brouillette said. “The contest was one of the best highlights of my summer, and being a part of the team was amazing.”

“The trip was unforgettable,” Farmer said. “Great memories with a fantastic group.”

Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program is a 4-H youth natural resource program dedicated to teaching wildlife and fisheries habitat management to high school youth. The interactive program provides participants an opportunity to test their wildlife and fisheries knowledge in a friendly, hands-on, educational competition.

At the event, the contestants were required to identify the needs of wildlife species in the Southeast mixed and outer coastal plains forest, wetlands and urban region and make recommendations on wildlife management practices that will improve the habitat in the selected region.

Participants learn wildlife terms and concepts, wildlife habitat, how to judge the quality of habitat, habitat management practices and damage management techniques, Bui said.

Next year, the contest will be held in Maine, which will be a completely new and different terrain for the Louisiana team to experience, she said.

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Members of the Louisiana 4-H wildlife team won third place at the National Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program contest held in Eatonton, Georgia, July 30 to Aug. 2.Team members included Haley Farmer, of Sabine Parish, who placed 14th at the contest; Thomas Bergeron and Paycen Brouillette, of West Feliciana Parish, who placed eighth and 11th respectively; and Bridget Seghers, of St. Tammany Parish, who placed second in the nation as the high score individual. (Photo by Don Reed)

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