By Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana placed third among 15 states that competed in the 38th annual National 4-H Forestry Invitational from July 30 through August 3.
Teams from Arkansas and Florida placed first and second respectively. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia also had teams.
The event was held at West Virginia University Jackson’s Mill State 4-H Camp and Conference Center near Weston, West Virginia, said LSU AgCenter area forestry agent Robbie Hutchins.
“While at the Invitational, 4-H members competed for overall team and individual awards in several categories,” Hitchins said. “Events included tree identification, tree measurement, compass and pacing, insect and disease identification, topographic map use, forest evaluation, the forestry bowl and a written forestry exam.”
Louisiana was represented by Austin Goldstein, of Harrisonburg; Clare Phillips, of New Iberia; Rachel Rachal, of Shreveport; and Clay Zaunbrecher, of Gueydan.
The team’s coaches were AgCenter agents Luke Stamper, of Harrisonburg; Natalie McElyea, of Baton Rouge; Robbie Hutchins, of Alexandria; and Keith Hawkins, of DeRidder.
The Louisiana team was chosen at 4-H University and consisted of the top four contestants in the 4-H forestry contest.
The team members attended a week-long training session in Baton Rouge to prepare for the competition. During the training session, team members built on their skills gained in their preparation for 4-H University and learned to identify 50 new trees and 25 new insects and diseases, Hutchins said.
“During that week, team members learned three completely new events of the contest: topographic map reading, site evaluation and forestry bowl,” he said.
Facilitators for the training were AgCenter forestry agent Brian Chandler and Hutchins.
4-H is a youth education program operated in Louisiana the LSU AgCenter.
The event was sponsored by Farm Credit System, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., USDA Forest Service, West Virginia University Extension Service, American Forest Foundation, Southern Regional Extension Forestry, Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals, National Woodland Owners Association, and Black Diamond Resource Conservation and Development Council.