Moffat County Extension Office starts natural resource program

Future biologists and wildlife managers have a new opportunity that might fuel their interests.

The Moffat County Cooperative Extension Office is starting a program designed to teach youth about wildlife and fisheries habitat management.

A Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program (WHEP) will begin in February. It is a 4-H youth natural resource program that will allow children between the ages of 8 and 19 to participate in many activities including identifying common wildlife foods and developing wildlife management plans.

In other regions around the country, WHEP has earned the reputation as a program that offers a quality educational experience for youth that encourages relationships between professional wildlife and fisheries biologists, volunteers, parents, youth, teachers, farmers and ranchers. Children who participate also benefit from accumulating knowledge by practicing essential life skills such as oral and written communication and decision-making.

Ann Franklin, agriculture and natural resources extension agent who will help get the program on its feet, is excited about the opportunities WHEP will provide for youth.

"It's something that hasn't been done in the state before," said Franklin. "The kids who have an interest in this subject now have a program they can get involved with that will nurture their interests. It is applicable to real life if people want to go into this field."

Brad Petch, area habitat biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, will coach youth in the program.

There are state and national contests that participants compete in, giving them a chance to interact with people from throughout the country. Each year Colorado will select a team through a state competition in June and send the team to the national competition.

The Moffat County Extension office is excited about offering this program and encourages any young person who has an interest in wildlife, natural resource management or agriculture to look into the program. For more information, call the Moffat County Extension Office.

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