Testing wildlife knowledge

Published 3:54 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dalta Garrett of Pelham said her 4-H Wildlife Club teaches her how to preserve habitats for beautiful wildlife species and teaches her the importance of humans living without harming natural spaces where animals dwell.

She was one of four high school students from Shelby County who competed at the 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program’s competition held at Auburn University June 19-20. There they had to identify 110 animals, know their habitat requirements and be able to create a plan to improve the habitat for selected wildlife at a particular sight.

Garrett came in second in her overall individual score, while Carrie Beth Littleton came in third. The two girls’ scores helped boost their other team members Andrew Bell and Jacob Harris to win first place at the state competition.

The team headed to compete at nationals in Stillwater, Oklahoma last week.

“Our team has worked for three years to win a chance to compete at Nationals,” said coach Vivian Garrett. “This is a fun way for students to appreciate the world around them and learn to become good stewards of our land.”

The students had to put their nose to the books to learn more about the world beyond Shelby County.

“The focus at Nationals is Great Plains Grasslands, so they have hit the books and learned about a totally different habitat,” Vivian Garrett said.

Before the competition, one of their coaches, Dr. Bill Garrett, visited a prairie preserve with the students so that they could get a visual of what they would be tested on.

The State 4-H Cooperative Extension Service and the Shelby County Extension Office both sponsored the team’s trip. Programs created through 4-H are offered nationwide for students age 9-19. These programs focus on skills that develop future leaders. Parents are also encouraged to volunteer and create new 4-H clubs for students in their community just like the club Bill and Vivian Garrett started in Shelby county for youth interested in wildlife.