West Virginia 4-H'ers capture two titles at national competition

Four Monroe County youths added to a legacy of West Virginia University Extension Service  4-H teams who have fared well in land judging and homesite evaluation contests by winning the national championship in both categories at the National Land, Range and Homesite Evaluation Contest held in Oklahoma on May 4.

Reagan Ernst, Kris Hoke, Andrew Wrzosek and Cameron Wickline practiced for more than 10 months to take home the top honors, including an extra week of practice on site in Oklahoma to acclimate to the wide variety of soils they’d be asked to judge.

Land judging and homesite evaluation programs educate youths about soil properties, and typically in West Virginia, these practices are often used when building homes or for farming and agricultural purposes.

But it’s more than evaluating soil textures, composition, permeability, erosion characteristics and the slope of the land — for many youths it’s a basis in the sciences and being good stewards of the earth explained coach, and WVU Extension Service Monroe County Agent, Brian Wickline.

“The point of the contest is for youths to comprehend the dynamics of the soil in front of them and give recommendations on how to manage it,” said Wickline. “Not only does it teach good soil conservation practices and proper land management decisions, but for some it can turn in to a lifelong interest.”

He added that the youths’ dedication is evident by learning about something that not a lot of peers take interest in. The team practiced four hours a week since January when they started to seriously prepare for the competition.

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WVU Safety & Health Extension protects workers from fall hazards through free event

Fatalities caused by falls continue to be the leading cause of death for construction workers, and to help protect workers in our area, the West Virginia University Safety and Health Extension will help them identify fall hazards and prevent fall fatalities through a free, educational event on Monday, May 8.

Construction workers, employers and safety professionals are invited to join WVU Safety and Health Extension specialists at CSC Home and Hardware in Morgantown from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. that day as part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 2017 National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction campaign.

Safety demonstrations, giveaways, free fall hazard awareness training, safety technology showcases and other resources to educate workers and employers about prevalent fall hazards are scheduled. In addition, attendees can browse various informational stations to learn about safety measures for ladders, scaffolds, aerial lifts and more.

According to organizers, violations associated with fall prevention safety standards continue to be among the top 10 OSHA issued citations nationwide, a trend that can be addressed through education.

“The goal of OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction campaign is to raise awareness among workers and employers of the danger posed by falls on the jobsite and to highlight mechanisms to prevent them,” said Wayne Lundstrom, WVU Safety and Health Extension associate professor and director of the National Resource Center – OSHA Region III Training Center. “Falls on the jobsite can be fatal, and our goal is to educate about these risks and how to create a safe work environment. Too many workers continue to die every year from preventable falls on construction sites.”

While events are happening across the nation as part of the larger campaigns, all employers are encouraged to talk directly to employees about safety, including hazards, protective methods and the company’s safety policies and goals during the week. It can also be an opportunity for employees to talk to management about fall hazards they see around the workplace.

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Youths can connect with nature at 76th annual West Virginia State Conservation Camp

Youths can learn to protect and preserve West Virginia's natural resources at the West Virginia State Conservation Camp held Monday, June 12 through Saturday June 17, hosted by the West Virginia University Extension Service.

High-school-aged youths ages 14-18 interested in exploring natural resource-based careers or expanding their knowledge of the environment, outdoor recreation and conservation are encouraged to apply. In addition to hands-on learning in areas of forestry, wildlife management, nature awareness and more, the camp will offer traditional camping activities such as nightly campfires, recreational sports and other group activities.

According to Mike Hall, WVU Extension Service agent in Webster County, one of the most beneficial aspects of the camp is that it matches participating youths with natural resource management professionals in various disciplines.

"This face-to-face interaction allows youths to see how the professionals work within the natural, economic and social environments to manage and protect the state's natural resources," said Hall. "Campers gain knowledge and skills through hands-on activities that will help them become effective decision makers about conservation issues, regardless of their eventual career path."

Since 1941, more than 16,000 youths have attended the award-winning camp, which is the longest-running youth conservation camp in the nation.

Each morning during the week, campers will participate in natural-resource-focused science, technology, engineering and math programming designed to provide them with a better understanding of the natural world. Campers may find themselves ankle-deep in streams learning about fish shocking — one of many tools biologists use to study fish populations — or pushing through the forest to learn about the diverse flora and fauna in the surrounding environment.

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