The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission sponsored the first annual Youth Conservation Institute, July 11-18 all across the State of Arkansas. The institute is a competitive, merit-based, week-long journey into Arkansas’s conservation story and serves as a springboard for conservation-minded teens who want to make an impact on the community in which they live.
Students were selected from a state-wide pool based on criteria including grade point average, letters of recommendation and proven interest in conservation and wildlife management. This year’s class consisted of Cody Walker, chaperone, Jonesboro; Donna Steelman, chaperone, Fordyce; Jared Hett, Pottsville; Travis Gray, Oden; Kaleb Wornick, Mena; Cato Jo Spivey, Horseshoe Bend; Seth Bickford, Conway; Bailey Hankins, Ward; Hunter Almond, Maumelle; Austen Evers, Harrison; Joe McAlee, McRae; Laura Rogers, Game and Fish regional education coordinator, El Dorado; Brody Smith, Guy; and Jacob Jones, Humnoke.
By participating in field activities, they witnessed how Game and Fish manages the fisheries and wildlife of the state and learned about possible career choices in the field of conservation. They studied Arkansas’s different ecosystems by visiting the Ozark Mountains, the Gulf Coastal Plains, the Delta and Crowley’s Ridge. They went catfishing in the south and smallmouth fishing in the north; they hiked the flatlands of the plains and mountains in the Ozarks.
Even after camping during the hot July heat, students proclaimed this experience to be the “best week of my life” and “one of the best learning experiences I have had.”
For more information about Youth Conservation Institute, please visit www.agfc.com.