WHEP State Contest
The state contest recognizes those youth who excel in their understanding of wildlife and habitat management. This one-day event is typically the last Friday or Saturday in April starting at about 9:00am and concludes with the awards ceremony at approximately 3:00pm. Contestants, 4-H volunteers, county staff, parents, and other non-contestants must be registered in advance to attend. First through fifth place is recognized in Junior and Senior divisions for individuals and teams of 3 or 4 from the same county. When competing as a team of 4, the lowest score is dropped. On the contest day, we attempt to randomly place individuals without teams on mixed-county teams so they can also compete for team awards and recognition. Sometimes due to the number competing or other reasons, placing individuals on a team is not possible. Therefore, individuals who attend the state contest should be prepared for either circumstance.
A different contest location is selected each year to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the different ecoregions and habitats in our state. Oftentimes educational and/or recreational opportunities are available to non-contestants (e.g., parents, coaches, siblings) and Juniors after completing the contest.
Achievement is accessed through competitive scores in contest events. Information about each of these events is available in the study guide, also called the handbook. The Arkansas handbook closely follows the national invitational handbook. The handbook is designed to provide uniformity for state and national contests. Recommended management practices are presented in a generalized way using representative species occupying major habitats. The reality of wildlife habitat management is often more complex. Emerging knowledge about wildlife and management, financial and political issues and technological improvements affect how habitat is best managed and restored.
The winning team of 4-H Seniors is eligible to represent Arkansas at the national WHEP Invitational and compete against other state teams for recognition and awards.
What to Bring
It is recommended that everyone who attends the state contest including contestants and adults bring a sack lunch. Seniors are required to bring a sack lunch.
Each contestant needs to bring an unmarked clipboard and several pencils with erasers. (Pencil sharpeners are not available.) The contest will be held rain or shine, so dress according to the weather and be prepared to be outdoors. Wear close-toed shoes. Sunscreen, hats, rain gear, and insect repellent are advisable. Electronic devices including cell phones, calculators, and computer watches are not allowed.
Cloverbuds. With county approval, Cloverbuds who are siblings can learn about wildlife identification at a mock contest while Juniors and Seniors are competing. In other words, the county is already bringing Juniors and Seniors to the competition and their sibling-Cloverbuds are present. Cloverbuds will be given time typically in the morning to complete a Wildlife Identification Station. Their supervising parents and guardians are encouraged to help Cloverbuds as much as needed. This is an educational opportunity offered to these youngsters, as they represent the future of the WHEP program. Typically they are recognized at the awards ceremony for their efforts.