Local Students Compete at Wildlife National

Congratulations Hilary and Ella, and coach Gulvas

by Beth Mossman – November 20, 2017

Two young ladies from Tioga County, Hilary Fernandes and Ella Miller, competed at the Wildlife National Competition in Eatonton, Georgia.

The WHEP, wildlife habitat education program, is a youth natural resource program designed to teach 4-H and FFA members about wildlife and fish habitat. It is a hands-on educational program, open to youth ages 8-19 however, to compete at the national level they must be 14.

To qualify to compete at the national level, the girls had to compete at the state level. The state competition was held in April in Rock Springs. The top four competitors at the state level qualified to go on to the national level as the Pennsylvania team. A team must have at least 3 people. So, this year the girls had to compete as individuals.

The WHEP contest is held over 4 days. The first 3 are spent studying and preparing for the1 full day contest. The individuals compete in the following areas.
1. Wildlife identification: the contestants are given 20 pictures of wildlife species to identify. They may be given a pelt, skull, listen to a call, be shown a food, or something else to identify a species.
2. General wildlife: youth are tested on topics ranging from habitat for select species to management practices that benefit wildlife.
3. Wildlife management practice: the participants are taken to an outdoor site with specific boundaries . They are asked to evaluate the quality of habitat for a select species. Based on their site evaluation, each individual is asked to recommend management practices that will benefit each specific species.
4. Written wildlife management plan: participants then write a 2 page management plan for the site they evaluated.
5. Oral defense of written plan: each individual appears before a panel of judges to answer questions about their written plan, and general wildlife questions. They are given 5 minutes for the oral interview.

These young ladies put a lot of time and effort in to preparing for this contest. Congratulations Hilary and Ella!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a major sponsor of WHEP. Local sponsors include Patterson Lumber Co. Inc., Wheeland Lumber Co. Inc., First Citizens Community Bank, and K. House & Son Lumber LLC.

Credits:
Idea/Concept: Beth Mossman
Videography: Tim Crane
Video Editing: Ethan Chabala
Writing: Beth Mossman
Correspondent: Katie Mossman

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