Jackson Co. range team nat’l champs | TSLN.com

Jackson Co. range team nat’l champs

Jackson County 4-H Range Team (left to right) Brandy Knutson- Coach/Advisor, Jackie Thayer, Lindsey VanderMay, Emily Knutson, Shaina Solon and Dave Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist. Courtesy photo

The Jackson County 4-H Range Team received top honors for their performance in the National 4-H Range Judging Competition held in the Oklahoma City area May 5-7, 2015. Out of more than 700 contestants, this South Dakota team placed first.

The Jackson County 4-H Range Team individual placings are as follows: Lindsey VanderMay was named the National Champion; Emily Knutson placing third, Shaina Solon placing fifth and Jackie Thayer placing sixth. The team was coached by Brandy Knutson.

The Newell FFA Range Judging Team placed eleventh in the FFA Range division. Team members include; Callie Kukuchka, Emma Rogers, Megan Thornhill, Bailey Bauer. This team was coached by Jodie Severson and Tyler Swan.

The National Land and Range Judging contest sponsored by Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts. The Concho Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency hosted the Range and Land judging event.

FFA and 4-H participating teams qualify for the national event by placing among the top five teams at contests held in their home states. The first two days of the three day event offered contestants opportunities to visit nearby practice sites to get acquainted with Oklahoma soils and plants with information available from range and soil experts. The actual contest site remains a secret until contest day, so no one has an unfair advantage. Contestants and coaches gather on contest morning to find out the official contest location.

The event ended Thursday night with an awards banquet in the Great Hall of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. National championship trophies were awarded to team and individual winners in each category of the competition which include; land judging, range judging, and homesite evaluation. Each category included FFA and 4-H divisions.

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More South Dakota teams place in national contest

South Dakota land judging teams received recognition on the awards stage including: in 4-H land judging division – sixth place went to the McCook County 4-H team. Team members include; Kayla Mentele, Michelle Moore, Kally Pulse, Kailey Roesler. The team was coached by Terry Rieckman and Alicia Reif.

The McCook Central FFA land team placed ninth in the FFA Division. Team members include; Ryker Seamer, Colin Sabers, Trustyn Wolf, Mercedes Peterson. The team was coached by Terry Rieckman and Alicia Reif.

Other participating South Dakota range and land teams included: Wessingtion Springs FFA, Clark FFA, Eastern South Dakota 4-H, Jones County FFA, DeSmet FFA, Highmore FFA and Viborg-Hurley FFA.

"These opportunities to expose students to the study of range management provide students with skills and understanding of a valuable natural resource that drives the economies of rural America in the west," said Dave Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Field Specialist, who provided technical support for all the South Dakota Range teams. "Many students will pursue careers which require the knowledge of soils and range resource management."

Lance Howe, USDA-NRCS Soil Scientist based in Redfield also provided technical support to South Dakota Land teams

In addition to practicing and competing in the range and land judging contest, the FFA and 4-H members were able to take in some of the local attractions Oklahoma had to offer.

Students toured Braum's Dairy and Processing facilities where more than 10,000 cows are milked twice a day and all the milk is processed on site to be delivered to 270 stores within 300 miles of their farm. Other tours included; the Oklahoma City Zoo, Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, Lazy E Ranch and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Sponsors for this unique educational opportunity include: South Dakota Section – Society of Range Management, South Dakota Livestock Industry Trust Fund and the South Dakota FFA Foundaton.

4-H and FFA youth, ages 14 to 18 who would like to participate in the National Land and Range Judging Contest have the opportunity to participate in qualifying Land and Range contests offered during summer and fall. Upcoming events are listed below.

South Dakota Rangeland Days – Chamberlain- June 23 & 24, 2015 – First place 4-H Range Team will go on to compete in the 2016 National Land & Range Judging Contest held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;

South Dakota Soils Days – Chamberlain- June 23 & 24, 2015 – First place 4-H Soils Team will go on to compete in the 2016 National Land & Range Judging Contest held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;

West Region FFA Land and Range Contest- Wall- First place Range and Land Teams will go on to compete in the 2016 National Land & Range Judging Contest held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;

Central Region FFA Land and Range Contest- Wessington Springs- First place Range & Land Teams will go on to compete in the 2016 National Land & Range Judging Contest held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;

South East Region FFA Land Contest – Dell Rapids- First place and second place Land Teams will go on to compete in the 2016 National Land & Range Judging Contest held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and

North East Region FFA Land and Range Contest – Webster-First place Range and Land Teams will go on to compete in the 2016 National Land & Range Judging Contest held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

For more information about participating in 4-H or FFA range and land judging events contact your county SDSU Extension 4-H Program Advisor or your school's FFA chapter. For a list of SDSU Extension 4-H Program Advisors, visit iGrow.org.

–SDSU Extension