Don Harris enjoys seeing his “kids” winning.
As the faculty leader of the Ingram FFA, he has seen his share.
Starting his fifteenth year at Ingram Tom Moore High School, Harris has coached his teams to four Wildlife Judging State Championships in FFA, and three in 4H. He had two other State Championships teaching at a previous school. Don Harris knows what it takes to be a winner, and instill it into his students. Ingram FFA has won more individual and team awards than any other school in the state.
Ingram FFA has also produced several individual State Champions and some $10,000 scholarship winners in this event, and as a testament to Harris himself, numerous students have gone on to become wildlife biologists.
They may not have known what they wanted to do when they came into the wildlife program, but really got into the program during their time under Harris’ leadership. One former student now works as a biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife, Several have gone on to work on private ranches, overseeing large acreages and tasked with building quality herds. Others have sought careers in sales supporting the wildlife industry.
Most of these students who are serious about their future continue their education at Texas A&M Kingsville. With its proximity to the King Ranch, it offers an excellent laboratory and abundant wildlife to study. Harris considers it the foremost school in Texas to pursue a wildlife degree.
There are different components to the competitions, which include plant ID (grasses, forbs, and woody plants), consisting of about 100 different grasses, and the Texas wildlife feed on them. Students have to be willing to study to excel; Love of the outdoors is not enough.
Each contest includes a 20 question section on biological facts on the game animals of Texas, as well as 15 questions from the TPWD hunting and fishing handbook, including daily bag limits, slot sizes for protected game fish, Anything in the book, is subject to test. Hunter safety and boater safety questions are covered on the tests, as well. Questions on “Technique” are asked too, including identifying animal tracks, a ducks wing, a pelt, or a skull, among many others. It could even be fishing equipment or type of trap. Technique covers the identification lot of things, and the girls are just as good as the boys.
Harris starts his team in January, and contests run into late April, with the state contest in Junction this school year. One of the high points every year is the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. Five of Harris’ students have won ten thousand dollar scholarships at this event.
Ingram FFA is in the capable hands of Don Harris. Be looking for more accolades and awards for this wonderful program this year.
Come out and support the Ingram FFA at The Hunt Store on Thursday, August 31. We are having a wild game buffet with wild boar, quail, wild axis and live music by The Goat Creek Band! Tickets to the event are $35. Help raise funds for college scholarships for the Texas State Champion FFA Wildlife Team who are committed to agricultural science wildlife management studies.