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4-H feeding S.C. wildlife with 500-pound seed donation

First Posted: 9:47 am - July 17th, 2015

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Luther Wannamaker of Wannamaker Wildlife presents donated seed to Clemson Extension agent Alana West.

CLEMSON — South Carolina 4-H members are helping wildlife eat through the stressful summer by planting food with a donation of 500 pounds of seed from Wannamaker Wildlife.

Through the 4-H Wildlife Food Plot Project, 4-H members grow food for wildlife through an educational competition in which they’re judged based on their plots’ productivity. They also must maintain plot-management records, said Alana West, a 4-H agent with Clemson Extension.

In addition to learning effective crop production, participants learn about soil health, ecology, wildlife management and environmental stewardship.

“I have a great affection for trying to get the young people involved. Of course it’s a great cliché to say young people are our future, but they are,” said Wannamaker Wildlife owner Luther Wannamaker of St. Matthews.

The food plots attract wildlife, improve soil fertility and wildlife nutrition, and provide cover for deer and other wildlife, he said.

Last fall, 110 4-H members from across the state participated in the Wildlife Food Plot Project. Each participant who completed the project received 10 pounds of seed from Wannamaker Wildlife to plant a food plot during the summer, too. The bag includes seeds for forage soybeans, Catjang peas and Sunn Hemp, a high-yielding legume.

Food plots are valuable nutrition sources for deer and other wildlife, particularly during summer months when food can be sparse, said Clemson Extension agent Marion Barnes. These food plots also assist wildlife displaced by urban encroachment, he said. Among other benefits, the food plots attract songbirds and provide habitat for insects popular with quail, Barnes said.

“We have two stress periods that wildlife go through, the summer stress period and the winter stress period, and in South Carolina, with its mild winters and hot, dry summers, the summer is really more stressful,” Barnes said. “When you go a long time without rainfall, the natural herbs and plants that wildlife eat, they just are not as abundant.”

The next 4-H Wildlife Food Plot Project begins in August. Participants will plant seed by October, West said. The project is supported by Wannamaker Wildlife, the Quality Deer Management Association and Rack Pack, a youth-development program of the association.

The state 4-H program is the youth-development program of Clemson Extension. More than 84,000 young people in South Carolina participate in 4-H. Programs cover animal science, agriculture, science, engineering, natural resources, leadership and much more.

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