Wildlife Habitat Education Program (WHEP)

WHEP is a 4-H youth natural resource program dedicated to teaching wildlife and fisheries habitat management to junior and senior level (ages 8-18) youth in the United States.
Studying a science-based manual, participants learn:

  • Wildlife terms and concepts
  • About wildlife habitat
  • How to judge the quality of wildlife habitat
  • Wildlife habitat management practices
  • About wildlife damage management

 The Wildlife Habitat Education Program is a hands-on environmental education program. WHEP provides participants an opportunity to test their wildlife knowledge in a friendly competition. The winning senior (14-19 years of age) team from each state earns the right to attend the annual National WHEP Contest, typically held the last full week of July.

  • Awarded the Conservation Education Award by The Wildlife Society; which is the only professional organization that certifies wildlife biologists nationwide: 1996
  • National 4-H Program of Distinction: 2011

Do to a lack of enrollment in the Wildlife project, there will not be a 2017 Missouri State WHEP Contest 

The WHEP contest provides 4-H members an opportunity to test their wildlife knowledge in a friendly competition. The winning senior (14-18 years of age) team from each state earns the right to attend the annual National WHEP Contest, typically held the last full week of July. 

4-Hers may compete as part of a county team or as an individual.  Awards are presented to both teams and individuals.  The state team will be selected from the top 4 Senior division individuals. 

Two Age Divisions

            Junior:            8-13 yrs.

            Senior:           14-18 yrs. 

The state contest is open to any Missouri 4-H member in good standing.  There is no prerequisite to be enrolled in a specific 4-H project; though the contest should be of special interest to 4-Hers enrolled in any wildlife, conservation or natural resources project: Exploring Your Environment –EE914, Hunting Skills –SS749, and Wildlife –WI724. 

The wildlife and habitat concepts and practices taught through the Wildlife Habitat Education Program (WHEP) state event provides a solid knowledge base for any and all 4-H wildlife and conservation projects. Youth and volunteers are often intimidated by the contest but shouldn’t be.

  1. Everyone is pretty much in the same situation; volunteers are seldom wildlife professionals.
  2. The information required to excel in the event can be learned by studying only the National WHEP handbook.
  3. By participating, gaining experience, continuing to study, and practicing; the concepts that at first seemed difficult will become familiar. In other words, the best way to develop the competence required is to “just do it” and stop the excuses.

Please see the resources listed below – especially the National WHEP Manual

The Eco-region to study for 2016 is the Eastern Deciduous Forest

Reasons to participate

  • The sound wildlife management fundamentals that youth acquire by participating in this program will assist youth in the future.
  • Participants will be able to make better decisions concerning their environment whether in the voting booth, as member of a local citizens committee, or in their personal life.
  • The Wildlife Habitat Education Program provides career exploration for wildlife management and associated fields.
  • Gain knowledge and inspiration to design and develop a personal wildlife management plan.
  • Opportunity for older youth-14 yrs and older-to travel and participate in the national Wildlife Habitat Education Program.

How to get started

  • Recruit youth (8-18 years old) interested in the outdoors, wildlife, nature, etc. Individual youth may participate as well as a club, group or team.
  • Secure a volunteer leader…anyone with an interest that will devote time. Vast wildlife management knowledge is not required. Hunters, science teachers, retired outdoorsmen are excellent. Parents that work for MDC, DNR, NRCS and other agencies are great.
  • Gather the resources. All necessary resources are available online from the Missouri 4-H
  • Additional resources are being developed and may be available in the future. Stay current on developments by visiting the website on a regular basis.
  • The volunteer leader should study the materials, develop a basic understanding of the process, plan, and schedule a series of project meetings.
  • Follow through and conduct the first meeting.


Resources for all project levels

Related websites

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