PCHS senior, junior land judging teams win state titles

Published 7:23 pm Monday, April 19, 2010

The Polk County High School FFA Chapter recently won its second senior division State Land Judging competition and its second consecutive junior division championship.
The 56th Annual North Carolina FFA Association Land Judging Career Development Event was held March 26-27 in Franklin County, N.C.
This was the second time in four years the schools team won the senior division championship. Polk Highs senior Land Judging team brought home the schools first state title in 2007.
This years senior team members are Clay Blackwell, Blair Ruth, Jackson Hughes and Alex Stott. Ruth and Hughes tied for the second highest score (314 out of 400) in the State in their division.
The senior team is now eligible to participate in the 59th Annual National Land and Range Judging Contest to be held May 4-6 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The team is currently raising funds for the trip to Oklahoma.
This was the second consecutive year that the junior team won the state competition. Junior team members included: Jennifer Page, who earned first place in the junior division and the highest overall score of the competition (363), Shalyn Brown, who earned the third highest score in the junior division (283), Natalie Hilbig and Sam Vining.
“These students started preparing for this competition in September,” says team advisor Chauncey Barber, adding how proud he is of their accomplishments. “This was a very special day for our kids. They earned all except two of the awards they could possibly win at the competition.”
Following the event, Barber says that he placed all of the teams awards in the schools office for others to see and he enjoyed a comment from his fellow teacher Head Football Coach Bruce Ollis, who joked that it looked as if the students had needed a U-Haul to bring all of their awards back to Polk County.
“We worked hard to prepare for the event by visiting local farms and practicing on the weekends,” says senior Clay Blackwell, who has participated on the team for four years. In addition to their regular curriculum, the students also spent extra time during school preparing for the event.
Slater Turf Farm and Polk County Soil and Water sponsored the team in the State Competition. Chauncey Barber and Richard Smith are the teams advisors.
In addition to these two, Farm Bureaus Columbus branch, Carolina Farm Credit of Hendersonville and Spindale, Ruff Logging and Ruff “B” Farm are sponsoring the teams trip to the National Competition in Oklahoma.
The Land Judging event encourages students to analyze land characteristics including soil type, erosion and drainage in order to determine the lands best possible use. Team members evaluate the soil to determine its texture, structure, consistency and erosion as well as its permeability, slope, drainage capability, flooding hazard and rate of surface water removal.
During the competition, the students also recommend land treatments and rate it for urban uses that include septic systems, basements, foundations, sanitary landfill and landscaping. Lastly, the students are asked a series of questions regarding special environmental concerns with the land.
Knowledge about soils can be applied in managing farms, fields, and woodlands, developing communities as well as engineering work. Through these competitions and related activities, students are able to comprehend why soils respond differently to management practices and how soil properties affect crop growth and urban uses according to the North Carolina FFA Association.
The event is one of 42 different career development events offered to North Carolina FFA members.
The students are seeking additional sponsors to help with trip expenses. Anyone interested in helping is asked to contact Barber at (828) 894-2525 ext. 227.

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