Local Teen Wins 3rd in National 4-H CompetitionAugust 28th, 2012 by Submitted
Matthew Spencer, 17, a resident of Drew County and a member of the local Koinonia 4-H club, recently placed third in the nation in the 4-H Wildlife Habitat Education Program’s competition held at Texas A & M and King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas.
His team placed third in the national team competition, as well. This is the first time in the history of Arkansas 4-H that any individual member or any team from Arkansas has placed in the top three at the national level.
Approximately 10,000 members of 4-H and FFA nation-wide participate in the WHEP program, and out of that group, 104 were selected to participate in the national contest. Matthew earned his place on Arkansas’ team by placing second in the individual competition at the state level contest sponsored by WinRock Farms in Morrilton.
WHEP is a hands-on environmental education program. Studying a science-based manual, participants study wildlife terms and concepts, wildlife habitat, how to judge the quality of habitat, management practices and wildlife damage management.
Matthew and his three team members, Addison Jacobs, Mary Lewis and Seth Hardwick, all of Saline County, accompanied by their coaches Gina Jacobs and Karen Spencer, traveled to Texas A & M University in Kingsville, Texas, where they spent several days on field trips and attending lectures prior to the competition.
In the days leading up to the competition, the contestants toured the Wildlife Research Institute, which contains an extensive collection of regional flora and fauna. They toured the Center for Natural Toxins Research Laboratory and Museum, where over 300 poisonous snakes are kept and venom is milked. They spent two days on the King Ranch, where they attended field trips and lectures conducted by wildlife biologists.
The winners were announced at the awards banquet held at Texas A & M in Kingsville. Matthew’s great-grandmother, Mrs. Terrel (Rubye) Spencer, and grandmother, Sarah Alice, traveled to Kingsville to attend the awards ceremony, as well.
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