Entries Being Accepted For Wildlife Food Plot Contest

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The 4-H wildlife habitat enhancement project called FACE for Wildlife is now accepting entries for 2003, and interested youths ages 5-19 are encouraged to contact their county Clemson Extension Service 4-H coordinator by April 1.

The FACE (Food and Cover Establishment) for Wildlife program works through 4-H clubs to educate youngsters in wildlife habitat needs and encourages the planting of wildlife food plots. Sponsored jointly by Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, S.C. Quail Unlimited and S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the program is beginning its 24th year.

All food plots must be planted by June 15, so interested youths should contact their local county 4-H coordinators by April 1 to find out how they can enter the 2003 FACE for Wildlife contest. Contestants must complete a record book in order to participate and compete for awards.

Seed packets containing an annual seed mixture are furnished free of charge to participating 4-H members by the DNR. Clemson Extension 4-H coordinators are responsible for conducting sign-ups of interested youth and offering help and guidance to participants. Contestants in all age groups compete for cash awards and trophies, provided by S.C. Quail Unlimited and local Quail Unlimited chapters. In addition, the South Carolina 4-H Program awards a choice between a $500 academic scholarship or a trip to 4-H National Congress for the senior state winner. Participants need only an interest in wildlife and a willingness to devote some of their spare time to wildlife habitat enhancement to take part in the program.

"This is an excellent opportunity for youths to participate in hands-on wildlife management, learn more about wildlife, and benefit wildlife populations all at the same time," said Jay Butfiloski, DNR wildlife biologist and statewide FACE coordinator.

Youths taking part in the contest attend a meeting in the spring to receive instruction on wildlife habitat requirements and how to best plant their food plots to benefit wildlife. Each contestant is required to keep detailed records on site preparation, fertilization, wildlife sightings and other observations to be eligible for awards.

Beginning in the fall, plots and record books are judged on the county, regional and state levels by DNR wildlife biologists and technicians. Prizes range from South Carolina Wildlife magazine subscriptions to cash and trophies. In 2002, 175 4-H members signed-up from 31 counties to participate in the contest, and FACE winners were awarded more than $750 from local Quail Unlimited chapters.

"The contest is designed so 4-H members may enter no matter where they live," Butfiloski said. "Participants don't have to live on a farm or even in a rural area. Food plots can be planted on the farm of a relative or a friend, in a vacant lot or wherever landowner permission can be obtained." Assistance is available in finding places to plant food plots by contacting the local Clemson Extension Service office or the DNR Small Game Project.

Individual food plots need only be one-quarter to one-eighth of an acre in size. Youths participate in three age divisions, and prizes are awarded for each age group. Landowners are asked to protect the food patches from livestock and other disturbance for one year in order to get maximum wildlife benefits.

Information on the program can also be obtained by calling Jay Butfiloski at the Columbia DNR office at (803) 734-3609, or by writing FACE for Wildlife, DNR, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202.

Youths who are not currently members of 4-H and are interested in the FACE program will automatically become 4-H members through their participation in FACE.