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Indiana Soils Judging Team Takes National Honors

Hamilton County team wins homesite evaluation.

The Superbowl of soil judging happens each year in May in Oklahoma. It's the prize five Indiana FFA teams and five 4-H teams seek each fall. And while Hamilton Southeastern didn't win the state contest last fall, the word is now out- the team captured the homesite division in 4-H and was runner-up in the land evaluation portion of the contest.

It's only fitting that a team from Hamilton County would be skilled at evaluating homesites. It's one of the fastest-growing counties in Indiana in terms of population. Much of it is due to new subdivisions constructed over the past 10 to 20 years. It's help take Hamilton Southeastern from a sleepy school district of about 500 in the top four grades in the late '70s to a huge school system, now with two high schools, Hamilton Southeastern and the new Fishers High School. The Hamilton Southeastern FFA hosts a soils judging contest each year. Often the contest site is in a field that's being developed for homesites.

In the National Land Judging contest held each May in Oklahoma, near Oklahoma City, contestants evaluate each site in the contest for both potential as an agricultural and as a home site. In Indiana, only one of four sites in the state contest is evaluated as a home site. The other three are judged strictly as agricultural sites.

About 170 teams form 35 states participated in the national contest this year, organizers note. Members of the Hamilton Southeastern team include Daniel Harting, senior at HSE; Chelby Welchel, junior at HSE; Maria Lunik, junior at the new Fishers High School; and Tucker Dezelan, a sophomore at Fishers High School.

Chelbey Whelchel placed firs tin the nation in homesite evaluation. Meanwhile, teammate Tucker Dezelan place fourth. In the land judging competition, Chelbey Whelchel placed seventh in the 4-H division.

This was the 57th annual National Land and Range Judging Contest. The contest ahs been held each year in Oklahoma City since 1952. Some teams, mostly from western and southwestern states, participate in a separate range judging contest, evaluating the potential of rangeland for grazing. They concentrate on identifying forages and weeds that can invade rangeland.

The chase for the prize begins again new this August when schools begin hosting invitational contests for soil judgers form around Indiana. It's the primary judging contest sponsored by Indiana FFA and Indiana 4-H held in the fall, and one fo the most popular of all judging contests.

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