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October 15--  Fish and Wildlife Management students from Southeastern Technical College pulled on their boots and waders to inspect wood duck boxes at George L. Smith State Park on Wednesday, October 12.

The students, accompanied by STC instructor Jill Lehman, examined nearly 100 duck boxes over two trips to the park.

“We’re monitoring the boxes,” said Lehman. “They have to have cedar shavings put into them, and every year, we’ll come through, clean out the old shavings, and count the number of hatched eggs. We record that info and send it to the Duck Conservation Society.”

The boxes, which serve as nest housings for the wood ducks, sit atop poles placed varying distances from the water, so while some students sunk their boots into water and mud, others hoisted a partner up to a box a dozen feet high.

The wood duck nesting box maintenance program is a key component in the continued restoration of wood duck numbers in the state.  Lehman notes that the staff of George L Smith State Park has been invaluable in this effort, which is turning heads outside of Georgia.

“Georgia has the most successful duck box monitoring program,” said Lehman. “It’s just unbelievable. In fact, other states are contacting the Duck Conservation Society of Georgia to get information about how to improve their programs.”

In addition to the boxes at the park, duck boxes at the Herrington Homestead Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Home also fall under the watch of STC’s Fish and Wildlife Management students.

The Fish and Wildlife Management Diploma Program is a sequence of courses that prepares students for careers as wildlife technicians. The Fish & Wildlife Program prepares individuals to conserve and manage wilderness areas and the flora, marine, and aquatic life therein, and manage wildlife reservations and zoological/aquarium facilities for recreational, commercial, and ecological purposes.

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Joe Rhinehart examines a duck box as Jesse Frost holds him up.