Iowa 4-H Youth Participate in Wildlife Habitat Education Program Contest

AMES, Iowa – Nineteen youth from five teams competed in the state Wildlife Habitat Education Program competition on Saturday, May 21 at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge east of Des Moines. 4-H members tested their wildlife knowledge in a friendly competition, working in teams of three to four. This year’s competition focused on urban and tallgrass prairie ecoregions and species.

Team 1 of the Poweshiek Prowlers won first place in the WHEP Tag Team Competition. The Franklin Foxes B team placed second and the Franklin County A team placed third. For the Individual Wildlife Challenge, Natalie Dohlman of Franklin County placed first, William Schalmo of Poweshiek County placed second, and Eva Dohlman of Franklin County placed third.

“I enjoyed helping WHEP because I’m learning along with the 4-H members,” said Jackie Dohlman, Franklin County 4-H Youth Coordinator. “We prepared for the state contest by playing the sounds of the birds and quizzing ourselves. I now find myself listening and looking for the birds that I recognize by their songs when I am outside!

After the competition, the students learned about the work to preserve healthy genetic bison populations at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Students also toured the shelter’s seed lab and greenhouse to learn about efforts to rebuild the prairie and support pollinators through the work of dedicated staff and volunteers.

seed laboratory and greenhouse.Many young people who participated said their favorite part of the WHEP competition was getting out into the prairie, learning about the wildlife and exploring the refuge. Young people also said they enjoyed learning while having fun with their friends and felt that WHEP had helped them improve their ability to work with others.

“It’s so great to see young people out there and excited to get involved in conservation,” said Kaycie Waters, an education outreach and outreach specialist at Iowa State University. “These young people are learning the importance of conservation management and how to be stewards of the land. The future of conservation is bright!

Event sponsors included Iowa 4-H Youth Development, The Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, and The Friends of Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.

For more information about the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program, or WHEP, please contact your county office of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

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