Wessington Springs 4-H Range & Soil teams will represent S. D. at national competition in 2018 | TSLN.com

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Wessington Springs 4-H Range & Soil teams will represent S. D. at national competition in 2018

Wessington Springs 4-H Range Judging team will be representing South Dakota in 2018 at the National 4-H Range and Soil Judging Contest held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in May 2018.The team placed first during the 34th Annual South Dakota Rangeland Days hosted by the East Pennington Conservation District and held in Wall and Wasta, South Dakota on June 20-21, 2017.Members of the Wessington Springs 4-H Range Team include: (left to right) Dalton Howe, Rylie Stevens, Coy Fastnacht and Logan Wolter. Photos courtesy SDSU Extension

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Wessington Springs 4-H Range and Soil Judging teams will be representing South Dakota in 2018 at the National 4-H Range and Soil Judging Contest held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in May 2018.

The teams placed first during the 34th Annual South Dakota Rangeland Days and 13th Annual Soils Days hosted by the East Pennington Conservation District and held in Wall and Wasta, South Dakota on June 20-21, 2017.

More than 110 youth and adults participated in the event.

Members of the Wessington Springs 4-H Range Team include: Logan Wolter, Coy Fastnacht, Dalton Howe and Rylie Stevens. Members of the Wessington Springs 4-H Soils team include: Landon Wolter, Keah Munson, Chandler Flowers and Alicia Jackson.

The travel to Oklahoma City for the 2018 national competition is partially funded by sponsorship through the 4-H Livestock Industry Trust Fund and the South Dakota Section of the Society for Range Management.

Hunter Eide of Gettysburg won the speech competition and will be representing South Dakota in the High School Youth Forum at the Annual Society for Range Management convention to be held in Sparks, Nevada in February 2018.

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The South Dakota Section of the Society for Range Management provides a sponsorship to cover the travel and participation expenses for Eide.

More about the event

The Rangeland/Soils Days program is an annual event that moves to a different location within the state every two years. The East Pennington Conservation District hosted the event in 2016 and 2017. The Spink County Conservation District will host the event in 2018 and 2019. Area ranchers, personnel from SDSU Extension, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA-Forest Service and the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies provided instruction and expertise.

"This event is an opportunity for youth and adults to learn more about two of the state's most important resources, our rangelands and the soils found in the state," said Dave Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist.

The event's learning activities were designed for a variety of age groups and expertise, from 8 years of age through adults. Beginners learned about plant morphology and identification and worked their way up to evaluating rangelands for suitability as livestock and wildlife habitat. Once the rangeland has been given a "rating" for habitat quality, recommendations for improvement are discussed and made to meet the goals of the cooperating producer.

Competitions & Awards

After a day of active learning, participants had the opportunity to measure how much they learned by participating in a contest suited to their age and expertise.

County 4-H teams and FFA Chapters, of three to four members, participated in team competition with the top 4-H team in their respective area of Range Judging or Soil Judging earning the right to represent South Dakota at the National Range and Soil Judging competition held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in May 2018.

Rangeland Day participants also competed for awards in the Rangeland Educational display competitions and Rangeland related speech contests in all the youth divisions.

Top Hand Awards

A Top Hand is selected in each youth division.

This award is based on the participants combined weighted scores in the three areas; range judging (40 percent),range displays (25 percent) and range speeches (35 percent).

The Top Hand in each youth division is awarded a Maynard belt buckle and the Top Hand in the Go-Getter Division also received a 3-foot tall traveling trophy to be displayed in their home for a year.

This Top Hand Award year's recipients include:

New Ranger Division: Bennett Gordon, Whitewood;

Wrangler Division: Matea Gordon, Whitewood; and

Go-Getter Division: Danika Gordon, Whitewood.

For further information about South Dakota Rangeland Days and South Dakota Soils Days please contact Dave Ollila at david.ollila@sdstate.edu.

–SDSU Extension