By Joe ThrashMarch 13, 2019
Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters and Head, Heart, Hands and Health (4-H) clubs from throughout East Texas gathered at Red River Army Depot to compete in the depot's Annual Forestry Competition on Tuesday, March 5. This marked the fifth consecutive year Red River has hosted the event.
Temperatures for the morning were below freezing but competitors came prepared to forge ahead. This year's competition had 106 participants representing 15 high schools and three 4-H clubs.
Winning teams and high point individuals were presented awards by depot Sgt. Maj. Keith E. Green. Avery FFA (Carley Westbrook, Emily Lamon, Amy Lamon and Taylor Kingor) was the winning team at this year's competition followed by Cass County Hope 4-H in second place and Central Heights FFA in third place. The high point individual was Brandon Overturf of Central Heights FFA.
The Forestry Competition provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain insight into forest land management. Students gain experience with a variety of skills such as pine identification, hardwood identification, timber forage-wildlife relationships, tree measurements and volume determination, rate of growth, wood identification, wood products, compass and pacing, site management concerns, and site productivity. The competition gives students the opportunity to understand the value of a properly managed forest and a greater appreciation of forest land as a renewable natural resource.
Students are taught the value in managing forest lands for multiple uses by recognizing the land can be managed to enhance wildlife habitat, aesthetics and protect soil and water quality at the same time that wood products are growing. The competition also gives students the chance to talk with professional foresters and natural resource managers. Employees of the Texas Forest Service help to facilitate the competition along with RRAD employees, retirees and volunteers. The competitors were fed with a meal provided by the RRAD Rod and Gun Club.
Students will go on to compete in competitions held locally by each soil and water conservation district, and the winners from these local competitions go to the state competition which is held in late April. It is our hope that this event, while competitive in nature, is remembered as a fun contest and gives the participants a glimpse of the incredible work that is performed here at Red River and of the remarkable natural resources that are present here.