SD teams earn National Range and Homesite Championships

Wessington Springs Range Team. Courtesy photo

SD FFA Foundation

Over 900 FFA and 4-H students and sponsors from across the country converged on Oklahoma City May 1-3 for the 67th annual National Land and Range Judging Contest hosted by the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts. Teams from over 30 states, including several from South Dakota challenged their knowledge of soil and plant science, land management and natural resources conservation in the field. South Dakota had two national champion teams, and several other teams place, showing that SD has great coaches and youth that are learning about the value of our soils and rangelands.

In the National 4-H Range Judging Competition, the Meade County 4-H team placed first with team members: Ryan Wilen, 1st place – National Champion; Randi Tivis, 5th place; Danika Gordon, 8th place; and Hunter Eide, 9th place. The team was coached by Brett Monson, Sturgis FFA Alumni President.

The Wessington Springs 4-H team placed 2nd in the event. Team members included: Logan Wolter, 3rd; Dalton Howe, 4th; Rylie Stevens, 6th; Coy Fastnacht, 11th.

In the Homesite Judging Competition, the Wessington Springs 4-H team placed first. Team members include: Landon Wolter, 4th place; Munsen, 5th place; Isaac Kolousek, 10th place; and Chandler Flowers, 12th place.

Brett Monson, team coach and Sturgis FFA Alumni President said “Agriculture has a near $21 billion impact on the SD economy, and it is vital that students in rural South Dakota have a knowledge base of soil and range resource management. We would like to thank the following individuals that helped the students reach their goals: Mitch Faulkner (Belle Fourche NRCS), David Ollila and Sandy Smart (SDSU Extension), all the ag teachers who worked together to set up practice sites, and their parents for supporting them through this endeavor.”

In addition, Katelyn Winberg, McCook Central 4-H, received 1st place individually in the 4-H Homesite Competition; the Hyde County 4-H Land team placed 4th; McCook Central County 4-H Land team placed 7th; and Clark County 4-H Land team placed 12th.

To qualify for the national competition, these two teams placed 1st and 2nd last summer at the SD Rangeland Days, in Wall, Sd.

The first two days of the national, 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.

South Dakota FFA Teams Place

In addition, several South Dakota FFA teams placed in the national contest.

In Range Judging, the Kadoka FFA team received 14th place; Hitchcock-Tulare 15th; and Webster 18th.

In Land Judging, the Highmore FFA team placed 23rd, Lennox Sundstrom 32nd; Willow Lake 53rd; McCook Central 66th; and Sturgis 84th.

In Homesite Judging, the McCook Central FFA team placed 18th, Lennox Sundstrom 34th; and Sturgis 45th.

More about the event

The event ended May 3rd 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.

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, Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

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. Those attending were: Lance Howe, USDA-NRCS Soil Scientist, Sandy Smart, Professor & SDSU Extension Rangeland Management Specialist; and SDSU Extension Specialist Dave Ollila.

Financial sponsors to assist with a portion of the travel for this unique national educational opportunity include: South Dakota Section of SRM, South Dakota Livestock Industry Trust Fund and the South Dakota FFA Foundation.

2018 Land & Range Judging Contest

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). 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 26-27, South Dakota Rangeland Days, held in Redfield. The first place 4-H Range Team will go onto compete in the national competition held in Oklahoma City.

• June 26-27, South Dakota Soils Days held in Redfield. 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.