The Polk County High School land judging team will be heading to the national competition in Oklahoma on April 30. Pictured above are team members Caleb Brown (sophomore, senior team), Caley Modlin (junior, senior team), Elena Preston (sophomore, senior team), Tanner Garrett (sophomore, junior team), Mackenzie McCool (junior, senior team), Hunter Hilbig (sophomore, junior team), Sammie Haase (freshman, junior team) and Nora Contreras (freshman, junior team). (photo submitted by Chauncey Barber)
The Polk County High School land judging team will be heading to the national competition in Oklahoma on April 30. Pictured above are team members Caleb Brown (sophomore, senior team), Caley Modlin (junior, senior team), Elena Preston (sophomore, senior team), Tanner Garrett (sophomore, junior team), Mackenzie McCool (junior, senior team), Hunter Hilbig (sophomore, junior team), Sammie Haase (freshman, junior team) and Nora Contreras (freshman, junior team). (photo submitted by Chauncey Barber)

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PCHS land judging team headed to nationals

Published 6:22pm Friday, April 12, 2013

Caleb Brown, Mackenzie McCool, Caley Modlin and Elena Preston know dirt.

Just by looking at a hole in the ground they can tell you if the land’s texture is loamy, if it’s structure is granular or if there exists a potential for poor drainage.

These four students comprise the Polk County High School (PCHS) senior land judging team, which captured first place in the North Carolina FFA Land Judging competition April 5-6.

“We didn’t get to go to Oklahoma [nationals] last year so we made it our goal to get there this year,” said junior Caley Modlin, who was also on the senior team last year.

“Mr. Barber had a lot of confidence in us … so we didn’t want to let him down,” junior Mackenzie McCool added.

And they didn’t, the team heads to the national competition April 30 to May 2.

Teacher Chauncey Barber said Polk County’s support of its students, whether it’s in agriculture, sports or art, bolsters what the students are able to achieve.

“Richard Smith deserves a lot of credit for building the program up. I think there has always been a tradition in land judging and I think tradition breeds success,” Barber said.

PCHS has sent five teams to nationals since Barber began teaching with the program in 2001. He said seven other teams made it to the top level before that under Smith.

Barber said this is the youngest  PCHS team – two sophomores and two juniors – that has ever made it to nationals. He said having some of the older students like senior Shalyn Brown come back to mentor the students further helps the program grow and excel. 

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