Decatur County 4-H Wildlife Judging team competes at state

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Decatur County 4-H Junior and Senior Wildlife Judging team participated at the State 4-H Wildlife Contest at Fortson 4-H Center on October 21, 2017. Junior 4-H team members were Abram Austinson, Kinsey Ward, Sara Dollar 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 3rd   and the Senior team took 2nd 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. Sara Dollar had the highest score in Aerial Photographs and tied for 2nd place in Wildlife Identification. She was also the 10th place Junior individual. Kinsey Ward also placed in the top ten in Aerial Photographs. Rachel Hayes was 7th place in Wildlife Management Practices.

Additionally, Senior team members did an exceptional job in each area of the contest with Miller Hayes receiving 3rd place High Scoring Individual and Katelyn Ward 7th place overall. Katelyn Ward was the highest scorer in Aerial Photographs with Miller Hayes receiving 9th place. In Wildlife Management Practices, Miller Hayes was 4th. Both Katelyn Ward and Journey Austinson placed in the top 10 in Wildlife Identification. Miller, Katelyn and Journey placed 4th, 5th and 9th respectively in Wildlife Knowledge.

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.