Decatur County 4-H takes top honors at state contest

Published 4:50 pm Friday, November 4, 2016

The Decatur County 4-H Junior and Senior Wildlife Judging team participated at the State Contest at Rock Eagle 4-H Center on October 22, 2016. Junior 4-H team members were Gage Vulgamore, Abram Austinson, Kinsey Ward and Rachel Hayes.  The Senior team was represented by Katelyn Ward, Miller Hayes, Journey Austinson and Stacy Vulgamore. This year’s contest involved over one hundred 4-H students throughout Georgia.  The Decatur County Junior team placed 2nd   and the Senior team took 5th place honors.

Starting practices in September, the Junior 4-H students spent weeks studying the foods, habitat preferences and management practices for native Georgia species largemouth bass, bluegill, northern bobwhite, eastern fox squirrel, white-tail deer, barred owl, eastern cottontail and mourning dove. The Senior team was responsible for all the junior species plus an additional 11 including several species of concern such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and gopher tortoise.

The 4-H Wildlife Judging competition is very rigorous and encompasses many areas related to wildlife habitat management. The contest is divided into five sections: Wildlife Management Practices, General Wildlife Knowledge, Wildlife Identification, Aerial Photographs, and a written Wildlife Management Plan.  Team members must have extensive knowledge of each species’ habitat, food and life processes. Besides identifying the species from photos, calls, scat, tracks, skulls, or furs, students must also be able to interpret aerial photographs for the best habitat in relation to each species. Additionally, appropriate Wildlife Management Practices must be chosen for a given site scenario for each species.

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Junior team members performed well in each area of the contest. Gage Vulgamore was the 4th place high scoring individual. He received 5th place in Wildlife Management Practices and General Knowledge. Gage and Kinsey Ward also placed high in Wildlife Identification. Abram Austinson placed 5th in Aerial Photographs. The Junior team placed 1st in their Written Management Plan.

Additionally, Senior team members did an exceptional job in each area of the contest with Miller Hayes receiving 3rd place in General Knowledge. Katelyn Ward and Miller Hayes tied for 5th place in Aerial Photographs.  Journey Austinson tied for 5th place in Wildlife Identification. The Senior team placed 1st in their Written Management Plan.

The Wildlife Judging Competition is just one of many opportunities provided by Georgia 4-H in an effort to help students develop their potential by seeking and acquiring educational and vocational experiences. For more information about 4-H activities, contact the Decatur County Extension office at 248-3033.