Learning, Doing, Earning, and Serving

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Published on: Oct. 2, 2008

Last revision: Dec. 9, 2010

Wildlife Production and Management, Colton’s specialty.

Last October, at the 80th National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Colton was named the national award winner of the Wildlife Production and Management—Entrepreneurship program. As a member of the North Andrews FFA Chapter, he started a successful trapping business that he continues to develop.

“Trapping is necessary to keep the population balanced,” says Colton, as he leads the way to an outbuilding that serves as his workshop. “If you do it right, trapping can lead to healthier animals repopulating the next year. And for nuisance animals, it’s one of the best ways to manage them.”

The inside of his workshop is a testament to Colton’s dedication to do it right. Well-maintained and ordered by size, hundreds of traps line the ceiling and walls. His materials are carefully organized, the workbenches clear of debris. The slightest hint of skunk scent hangs in the space, but there is no other evidence of the messy detail work he undertakes here. Refrigerators for skins share space with typical signs of teenage habitation—a television, a microwave, a road-style sign collection and the occasional poster of a pretty girl—but the room is as organized as an army barracks. This is obviously more business space than hangout.

When I inquire about a tidy assortment of animal skulls on a shelf, Colton explains that understanding animal biology and behavior is critical to his trapping success. “I never realized how much there was to learn before I started,” he says. “I read everything I can find, watch videos and go to trapping conventions.”

Though he grew up hunting and fishing, and still enjoys those activities, Colton is relatively new to trapping. His brother became interested a few years back and piqued his interest. Now the brothers and their father have taken up trapping, in addition to their other outdoor pursuits. He has also become interested in taxidermy, and his mounts can be found at every turn, both in the workshop and throughout his family’s home.

Colton turned his passion into a business, and then a national award, with the guidance of his agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, Edward Windsor. He traps both for skins to sell and to remove nuisance animals, averaging around 250 animals a year. The money he earns is re-invested in the business.

“It was quite a bit of work, but I didn’t mind,” says Colton about starting his business and, later, applying for the national proficiency

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