Students and instructors from 32 Nebraska FFA chapters met in McCool Junction on Oct. 28 to compete in the State Land Judging Contest. The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District partnered with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to host the annual competition.
To accommodate the health and safety of participants during the pandemic, everyone wore face masks, and a staggered start time allowed for less interaction between schools at the judging location.
"We appreciate this opportunity to host the State Land Judging Contest," said David Eigenberg, Upper Big Blue NRD general manager. "It is important that we educate the youth on one of our most important resources. COVID-19 made this year's event logistically challenging, but our many volunteers and partnering agencies made it a tremendous success."
Land judging is a high school competition that challenges students to gain a better understanding of soil structure and land evaluation. Teams consist of four students from the same FFA chapter, and a few individuals who qualified separate from a team.
Each participant learns how to recognize the physical features of the soil, determine land capability for crop production, and evaluate management practices needed for proper stewardship.
During the competition, students judge four soil pits using an evaluation card to make assessments on soil depth, surface texture, permeability, slope, thickness of surface and erosion. Each evaluation card is scored and added together to determine overall scores for individuals and the team.
In order to compete in the state contest, teams advance from one of the seven regional competitions hosted across the state in October.
This year's winners
The 2020 State Land Judging individual champions are Jackie Schelkopf, Fillmore Central; Alex Goertzen, Heartland; Grady McDonald, Deshler; James Hansen, West Point; and Jaxson Sullivan, Fullerton.
The 2020 State Land Judging team champions are Heartland, Fillmore Central, Red Cloud, West Point and Fullerton.
These top five Nebraska teams will advance to the national competition May 4-6 in Oklahoma City. For more information on Nebraska land judging, visit nrdnet.org.