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Wildlife Habitat Education Program

Wildlife Habitat Education Program

WHEP is the only national youth program that teaches wildlife and fish habitat management with a scientifically-based curriculum created and managed by wildlife and fisheries professionals. The WHEP manual encourages youth to apply knowledge, concepts, and terminology in real-world outdoor settings by combining theory with applied management. During the contests, students compete in individual and team events on species identification, management practices, general species knowledge, a written management plan, and an oral defense of the written plan. The WHEP provides youth the capacity to make a lifetime of responsible environmental and community stewardship.

WV 4-H/FFA Members: See Judging Contest General Rules for specific team composition, entry, state eligibility, etc.

The information found in the National WHEP Manual is provided for learning wildlife habitat management concepts and to prepare participants for both the state and national contest. While it is beneficial to use other sources for training, the contest will only cover material presented in the manual. The 2018 WV WHEP Contest will cover the Eastern Deciduous Forest, Urban, and Wetland Ecoregions (i.e. the contest will not cover species found outside of the Eastern Deciduous Forest, Urban, or Wetland Ecoregions). However it is important to understand the information found within the Concepts and Terms, Eastern Deciduous Forest Ecoregion, Wetland Ecoregion, Urban Ecoregion, Wildlife Species, Wildlife Management Practices, and Glossary sections.

Download the National WHEP Manual 


WHERE: MeadWestvaco Natural Resources Center (NRC) on the WVU Research Forest

Counties will be responsible for meals, travel, and any needed lodging. Lunch will only be provided the day of the contest at the NRC.


*This time is subject to change. 

  1. Train 4-H/FFA’ers in subject matter.
  2. Submit pre-registration forms by deadline.
  3. Agree to help with contest—scoring, group leadership, etc.

At the present time, we have made arrangements for lunch at Contest Site. Counties will be responsible for meals other than lunch on the contest day, travel and any needed lodging. Counties should also have health forms for all contestants and adults attending the contest.


WHEP is an event which gives practical experience in the following:

  1. Wildlife terms and concepts
  2. Wildlife habitat
  3. How to judge the quality of wildlife habitat
  4. Wildlife habitat management practices
  5. Wildlife damage management


  1. Appropriate awards are presented.
  2. The winning 4-H and FFA senior team is eligible to represent West Virginia in the national contest.
  3. Financial support for the team to attend the national contest is dependent upon the 2018 budget allocation.

THE CONTEST: The WHEP contest is conducted over 1 full day and entails 3 individual events and 1 team event.

  • Wildlife Challenge– participants compete as individuals to identify wildlife species using photos, specimens, parts of specimens or calls. Participants are then tested on their knowledge of topics ranging from wildlife habitat for select species to management practices that benefit wildlife.
  • Wildlife Management Practices – participants compete as individuals and are taken to an outdoor site with defined boundaries and are asked to evaluate the quality of habitat for select wildlife species. Based on each participant’s site evaluation, he/she is asked to recommend wildlife management practices that will benefit each select wildlife species.
  • Written Wildlife Management Plan – participants compete as a team to write a 2-page management plan for an outdoor site with defined boundaries that meets objectives established in a field conditions sheet provided to each team.
  • Oral Defense of Written Plan – although each team member completes this activity individually, their individual score counts toward the final team score for the written plan. Each individual team member appears before a panel of 2-3 judges and answers questions over a 5-minute period about their written plan, as well as general wildlife questions.

Directions: Take Exit 15 off I-68 at Coopers Rock State Forest . Eastbound – turn left off exit ramp. Westbound – turn right off exit ramp. Turn right at T. Take the next left (Sand Springs Road/University Research Forest). Go approximately 2 miles. MeadWestvaco Natural Resources Center (MWNRC) is on left just over the covered bridge.

Sheldon Owen, National WHEP committee member and West Virginia WHEP Coordinator, at 304-293-2990 or email Sheldon.