Polk High students qualify for national land judging competition

Published 4:46 pm Monday, April 24, 2017

COLUMBUS-This year’s Polk County High School land judging team is heading to the national competition after securing third place in the state and second place in regionals this year.

This year’s team is made up of juniors Haley Robinson and Noriana Saunderson and seniors Aaron Adams and Mackenzie Blackwell.

The team will leave for Oklahoma this Sunday, April 30 and spend next week competing against more than 100 teams throughout the country.

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Land judging includes how to calculate the slope of the land, how water holds in the soil and what treatments need to be done to harvest the best crops, among other soil science facts.

The team is an extra-curricular activity at PCHS as part of the school’s agricultural program. The students will travel with agriculture teacher Chauncey Barber and Polk Soil and Water District’s Richard Smith.

Only the top five teams in each state are allowed to compete in the national competition. This year is the seventh year Polk County’s land judging team has qualified for the national competition since 2003.

Land judging includes learning land planning, septic systems, where a landfill can be located, where a house can be built and learning about wetlands and flood plains, as well as different types of soils and treatments.

Adams said the students classify the land based on its slope and determine the type of soil and based on that what could be fixed to make the land better to grow something. Adams also said erosion is a factor that affects the land as well as its permeability, which is how fast water goes through the soil.

Saunderson said she likes land judging because she likes interacting with the people and seeing land and knowing what it needs to make it better.

Robinson said she likes knowing different types of land and appreciates driving down the interstate and thinking about and knowing that some land has problems.

Blackwell said she likes the team because she likes being outdoors and it’s hands-on learning. Blackwell and other team members also said Barber is a great teacher.

Adams said it’s really nice to know that corn can be planted on specific land or other foods that we eat and what can be done to the land to grow things.

“I like to know we can do something to improve and help make the land better and help make things more efficient for us,” said Adams.

The students said they feel they will do well at nationals, but they will have to see the land first to know. Adams said the team is familiar with land in the mountains, piedmont and even coastal areas, but doesn’t know what to expect in Oklahoma.

“We’ve never seen that environment,” Saunderson said. “I think we’ll do well to our own standards.”

Barber said there are normally 100-200 teams from all over the country, including from Hawaii and Alaska. A land judging team can only go to the national competition once throughout their four years of high school.

Barber also said it’s a great trip every time Polk has attended and the students learn a whole different culture while there. He takes the students to different places while in Oklahoma City, including the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial.

Polk’s team has secured some sponsorships and donations but more is needed. Anyone who wants to contribute to the trip is encouraged to send donations to PCHS, attn.: Chauncey Barber, 1681 East NC 108 Hwy., Columbus, NC 28722.