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Texas 4-H team wins National Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program Invitational hosted by NMSU

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. - The Texas 4-H team won the 2010 4-H National Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program Invitational hosted by New Mexico State University in Los Alamos and at the Valles Caldera National Preserver July 25-July 29.

4-H and FFA members from 16 states participated in the National Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program Invitational hosted by New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service at the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico. (NMSU Photo by Jane Moorman)

n teams of 4-H and FFA youths from across the United States participated in the wildlife habitat evaluation program's competitive event, which focuses primarily on wildlife and natural resource education. The youths learn about natural resources management through participation in the contest and the associated field trips, educational events and demonstrations.

Teams from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Utah, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Maryland joined Texas in the competition that included five components: wildlife identification, general wildlife knowledge, wildlife management practices, writing management plans, and oral defense of the written plan.
NMSU's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences' Cooperative Extension Service, which hosted the 2003 invitational in Las Cruces, conducted the event at the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

"4-H WHEP provides an opportunity for young people to experience real-world natural resource management issues and the science that informs management decisions," said Sam Smallidge, NMSU Extension wildlife specialist and co-chair for the 2010 New Mexico Invitational committee.
"While the competition is important, it is not the sole focus of the program. The youth are exposed to field trips and fun activities," said NMSU's Summer Eaton, National 4H WHEP committee member and co-chair of this year's invitational. "WHEP events help participants develop critical thinking skills and learn how to work as a team. The participants are given real world situations and work together to provide solutions to natural resource problems that managers face every day"

This year's participants visited the Valles Caldera National Preserve and learned about the wildlife habitat of the 89,000-acre historic Baca Ranch, which is nestled inside one of America's largest volcanic calderas. Some of the competition's events were held at the Valles Caldera.

"We are excited about hosting the 2010 WHEP event," said Gary Bratcher, executive director for the preserve. "We believe the Valles Caldera National Preserve offers participants a lifetime of memories and demonstrates that the Caldera is ideally suited to provide multiday educational programming to a wide range of audiences."

"We have a number of wildlife habitat restoration projects, fish and wildlife studies and geological research available for the students," said Bob Parmenter, Valles Caldera National Preserve science and education director. "These projects, coupled with scientists from NMSU and the National WHEP program, provided a valuable science-based outdoor laboratory for the participants."

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