(TEMPLE) - A Calallen teen spent a week of his summer at a nature wildlife conservation camp late last month.

Joe Anderson, a former Calallen High School student, attended the weeklong Wildlife Conservation Camp sponsored by the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society held at The Nature Conservancy's Davis Mountain Preserve near Fort Davis during the week of June 15.

Each summer the camp hosts up to 25 high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors from around the state. This year, 17 students attended the camp to learn about wildlife biology, ecology, management and conservation.

Joe was sponsored by San Patricio County Farm Bureau and received the Camp Physicist award.

Joe said he particularly enjoyed diving and fishing at Balmorhea State Park. The most surprising thing he learned at camp was that hunting could be used as a habitat management tool and not just provide recreational opportunities, Joe added.

Having the camp at The Nature Conservancy's Davis Mountains Preserve provided the opportunity for many students to see plants, wildlife and habitats that they normally don't see in their region of the state, Wildlife Society officials said.

Students had access to five different kinds of habitats in the area including oak/pinon/juniper savannah, ponderosa pine forest, high desert grasslands, desert springs and low desert scrub. Students learned about each kind of habitat, how each one is unique, and the specific kinds of plants and animals that occur there.

The Wildlife Conservation Camp is designed to introduce young people to wildlife conservation and management by providing students with hands-on activities interspersed with learning sessions. Wildlife professionals from the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society, many of who return each year, donate their time and efforts to provide students with a quality learning experience each year at the camp. "We have had more help from the Texas Chapter members than ever before" said Misty Sumner, who was the main camp organizer.

Many of the camp volunteers have wildlife careers with such notable organizations as Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service and Wildlife Services, as well as Sul Ross, Texas State, Texas A&M College Station & Kingsville, Stephen F Austin and Tarlton State universities and the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.

"Such first-hand learning experiences by students from wildlife professionals representing a diverse array of backgrounds and a wealth of knowledge is a real asset to the student campers," Sumner said.

Field activities included plant collecting, deer, small mammal and reptile census techniques, bird and mammal identification, wetland ecology, archery and sporting clays, just to mention a few. Lectures included such topics as hunter safety, turkey management, tracking, trapping and tagging animals, radio telemetry, GPS, deer survey techniques, digital photography, use of fire and cattle to manage wildlife and soil and wildlife identification.

Joe is the son of Darwin and Debbie Anderson of Calallen. He will be attending the Texas Academy for Mathematics and Science at the University of North Texas in Denton.