Local 4-H youth compete in regional, state competitions

Published 5:59 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Local 4-H Club members recently competed at both the Regional and State level for the Wildlife Judging Competition.

On May 18, 12 Carter County 4-H members competed at the 2017 Regional Wildlife Judging Competition.

“The 4-H Wildlife Judging team members learn to identify various species of local wildlife,” said Extension Agent Emily Barton, who oversees the 4-H Youth Development program in Carter County. “In addition, they learn to determine the necessary wildlife management practices for many species of wildlife.”

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“They also gain general wildlife knowledge by preparing for the wildlife challenge,” Barton added. “This judging team helps youth by teaching valuable life skills such as teamwork, communication, and ethical decision making.”

In the Junior Division, the first place Junior 4-H Wildlife Judging team was Nathan Buchanan, Michael Caldwell, and Baylei Ritchie. The team members also received individual awards. Nathan Buchanan and Michael Caldwell tied for the 4th highest individual while Baylei Ritchie captured 6th highest individual.

In the Junior High Division, Mariah Albritton-Baird represented Carter County well, placing 12th highest individual.

“We are proud of these young 4-H members and know they will have much success as they continue into the Junior High Division,” Barton said.

The Senior High 4-H Wildlife Judging teams received 3rd and 5th place honors. Members of the third place team were Jesse Carr, Alayna Turbyfield, John Tapp, and Kaci Ritchie. Individual placings for this team were Jesse Carr, 5th high individual, Alayna Turbyfield, 16th high individual, John Tapp, 12th high individual and Kaci Ritchie, 13th high individual.

On the fifth place team were Damion Black, Harlee Black, Haley Rankhorn, and Owen Carr.

Barton said the volunteer team coaches were an important part of the success of the 4-H Wildlife Judging teams. This year’s adult volunteer coaches were Camille Jessee, Richie Winters, and Bill Meredith.

The Senior High team of Carr, Turbyfield, Tapp, and Ritchie earned the right to advance to the State Wildlife Judging Competition due to their third place victory at the Regional competition. The team represented Carter County and the Eastern Region 4-H program at the Bridgestone Firestone Wildlife Managment Area in Sparta in June.

The team captured 6th place in the State Wildlife Judging Competition.

To prepare for the state contest, Carr, Turbyfield, Tapp, and Ritchie prepared by studying many aspects of Tennessee wildlife and the southeast mixed ecoregion habitat with the help of coaches Jessee, Winters, and Meredith.

“For the Wildlife Challenge in state competition, they learned to identify wildlife species by calls, skulls, pelts, wings or pictures,” Barton said. “They also studied the wildlife species in order to answer questions about various species.”

“Team members also learned to use a scenario and made decisions as to the best-recommended wildlife management practices for southeast mixed ecoregion wildlife species,” Barton continued. “As a team, they were required to write a written management plan with recommendations for the landowner for the best way to manage for several wildlife species. Each team member then defended their choices on the management plan with oral reasons.”

In addition to the contest, the team was able to take part in a special educational program held at the Wildlife Management area on the afternoon before the competition.

Transportation, meals, and lodging for the team to travel across the state were donated by individual and business sponsors in Carter County, and Barton wants to thank all of them for their support for the program and the youth involved.

For more information on the 4-H program or how you can help be involved, contact Extension Agent Emily Barton at the Carter County UT Extension Office by calling 423-542-1818 or by e-mail to ebanks3@utk.edu.