Students Hearing The Call Of The Wild

Lots of youngsters like to be outside, but few have knowledge of the habitat, biology and conservation efforts around them. Students with an understanding of all that and more competed in a wildlife contest in Nacogdoches County.

More than 200 9 to 18 year olds trekked through the woods for the 'Wildlife Alliance for Youth' (WAY) state finals. The WAY contests address subject areas in wildlife and recreation management. Plant identification, wildlife biological facts and habitat management are some of the contests.

The Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board is the lead agency in sponsoring and organizing the contests. Many other conservation and wildlife agencies partnered in the event held Tuesday at the SFA Experimental Forest.

The game laws contest requires students to watch a skit portraying two squirrel hunters. Students judge what they did right and what they did wrong. The demonstration showed the correct way to cross a fence with a firearm, but when the hunters went after a bear it illustrated the importance of following game laws.

The 4-H and FFA youngsters come from as far away as the High Plains and South Texas. East Texas children were more accustomed to the tall pines and giant mosquitos.

No matter where they come from they all work hard learning wildlife and recreation management. FFA member Kenny Witek said, "It takes a lot of studying before and after school. Takes up a lot of time, but most of it is fairly easy."

Just like the bird dog that students watched make his job a game, the contest comes easy for students because they like it. FFA member Casey Goodman obtained experience that will help him in adulthood. "I'm going to go study wildlife and hopefully someday become a game warden or a wildlife biologist." But if they grow up doing something else, that's all right too according to contest organizer Bill Deauman."We'll have students going through here that will turn out to be doctors, lawyers, machinists, whatever, but they will carry with them a big appreciation of wildlife in the state of Texas."

The Wildlife Alliance for Youth reaches out to more than 10,000 kids statewide. Definitely a wonderful way to help assure the conservation of natural resources for future generations.