For five days each summer, it's never business as usual at the state 4-H Camp in West Virginia. “This week 4-H forestry teams from across the nation converged on this picturesque boyhood home of Stonewall Jackson to compete in a spirited educational event, the National 4-H Forestry Invitational,” said Jeff Kirwan, 4-H forestry Extension specialist at Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources.

The 2005 Invitational took place July 24-28 at the state 4-H Camp, near Weston, W.Va. The Virginia team consisted of Corey Dotson, Jeremy Edwards, Jonathan Edwards, and Brian Smith, all of Clintwood, Va., and was coached by Susan Wilder, also of Clintwood.

For some participants, the Invitational is a strong impetus toward a career in natural resources management; but for most, the opportunity to compete as a member of their state judging team rewards years of hard work in 4-H forestry and other conservation-related projects and club activities. As winners of their state's 4-H forestry contest, these young adults earned the right to represent their state at this premiere national event sponsored by the International Paper Company Foundation.

The National 4-H Forestry Invitational offers every participant the opportunity to become more attuned to the natural resource needs of our nation. The national contest stresses the importance of conserving forestland and develops an appreciation for the significant role forests play in providing products, benefits, and services for quality living. And it focuses on real-life challenges facing resource professionals who strive to sustain our nation's forests through wise management.

4-H is the youth education program of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state land-grant universities. More than 5 million youngsters participate in 4-H, and about 150,000 are part of the 4-H Forestry Program. The National 4-H Forestry Invitational is sponsored by the International Paper Company Foundation.