Wessington Springs National Range Judging Champs | TSLN.com

Wessington Springs National Range Judging Champs

The Wessington Springs 4-H Range Team placed first in the National 4-H Range Judging Competition held in the Oklahoma City, Okla., May 3-5, 2016.

According to the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, 700 FFA and 4-H members competed in the National Land and Range Judging contest.

The Wessington Springs team individual placings included: Hailey Bruckner, named Reserve National Champion; Wyatt Stevens placed third; Trinity Brunsen placed fifth and Chase VonEye placed 11. The team was coached by Craig Shryock.

"This opportunity exposes students to the study of Range and Land Management and provides students with skills and understanding of a valuable natural resource that drives the economies of rural America on the Great Plains. Many students will pursue careers which require the knowledge of soils and range resource management," said David Ollila, SDSU Extension Sheep Specialist.

The event was hosted by the USDA Agricultural Research Service-Grazinglands Research Station at Ft. Reno.

To qualify for the national competition, FFA and 4-H teams must place among the top five teams in contests held in their home states.

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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.

More South Dakota Teams Place

In addition to the team from Wessington Springs, several other South Dakota teams placed in the national contest.

Range Judging: The Lemmon FFA team received 10th place in the FFA Range division, team members included; Kelly Schopp, Quirt Beer, Bailie Beer and Aubrey Weishaar. The team was coached by Ryan Beer – USDA NRCS Area Range Management Specialist and FFA Advisor, Etta Knuth.

Land Judging: Hitchcock-Tulare FFA team was named the Reserve National Champions in the FFA Land Judging division. The team is made up of Ally Binger, who placed fourth; Baylee Enander who received 16th place; Bailey Cole, who placed 23rd and Zachary Binger. The team is coached by Lance Howe, USDA – NRCS Area Soil Scientist and Mike Brink, Agriculture Education Instructor.

Homesite: Homesite teams evaluate the land resource for suitability and issues when developing a commercial or private residence.

South Dakota teams performed well in both the FFA and 4-H Divisions. The Jackson County 4-H Homesite team placed third nationally. Team members include: Dalton Howe, received first place; Shaina Solon, placed 13th; Lindsey Vandermay, placed 24th; and Emily Knutson placed 29th.

The McCook County 4-H Homesite team placed fourth overall. Team members included: Natalie Gottlob, placed eighth; Taylor Reif, placed ninth; Ciara Rother, placed 14th and Kylie Wynberg, placed 21st.

In the FFA Division, the Hitchcock-Tulare FFA Homesite team placed fourth overall. Team members included: Bailey Cole, placed 10th; Baylee Enander, placed 30th and Ally Binger, placed 35th and Zachary Binger.

Other participating Range, Land and Homesite teams included: Wolsey -Wessingtion FFA, Webster FFA, McCook County 4-H, Lennox-Sundstrom FFA, Sturgis FFA, and Willow Lake FFA.

More about the event

The event ended May 5 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 including land judging, range judging, and homesite evaluation. Each category included FFA and 4-H divisions.

Also attending to provide technical assistance included: Lance Howe, USDA-NRCS Soil Scientist based in Redfield. Providing technical support to South Dakota Land and Homesite teams and providing range evaluation technical assistance included: Sandy Smart, Professor & SDSU Extension Rangeland Management Specialist; Jay Hermann, USDA-NRCS Area Range Specialist and Ryan Beer, Area Range Specialist.

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.

The Land, Range and Homesite evaluation opportunities offered in South Dakota are coordinated by members of the South Dakota Section of the Society for Range Management (SRM).

These events are supported with technical assistance from personnel within the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA Forest Service, USDI-Bureau of Land Management, US Fish & Wildlife, SD Game, Fish and Parks, SDSU Extension, area ranchers and other range professionals. Financial sponsors for this unique national educational opportunity include: South Dakota Section of SRM, South Dakota Livestock Industry Trust Fund and the South Dakota FFA Foundation.

2016 Land & Range Judging Contest

4-H and FFA youth 14-18 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 events as follows:

June 21 & 22, 2016 South Dakota Rangeland Days, held in Wall. The first place 4-H Range Team will go onto compete in the national competition held in Oklahoma City;

June 21 & 22, 2016 South Dakota Soils Days held in Wall. The first place 4-H Soils Team will go onto compete in the national competition held in Oklahoma City;

West Region FFA Land and Range Contest held in Wall (for dates, contact your local FFA Advisor). The first place Range and Land Teams will go onto compete in the national competition held in Oklahoma City;

Central Region FFA Land and Range Contest held in Wessington Springs (for dates, contact your local FFA Advisor). The first place Range & Land Teams will go onto compete in the national competition held in Oklahoma City;

SE Region FFA Land Contest held in Dell Rapids (for dates, contact your local FFA Advisor).The first place and second place Land Teams will go onto compete in the national competition held in Oklahoma City;

NE Region FFA Land and Range Contest held in Webster (for dates, contact your local FFA Advisor).The first place Range and Land Teams will go onto compete in the national competition held in Oklahoma City.

For more information about participating in 4-H or FFA range and land judging events contact your county 4-H program advisor or your school's FFA chapter.

–SDSU Extension