Agriculture students compete in FFA range judging
Natural Resources Conservation Service Rangeland Management Specialist (ret.)
High school agriculture students from across eastern Colorado competed this fall in the state FFA Range Judging and Plant Identification contest held on Oct. 13 at the Seibert Community Center. This youth educational event was sponsored by the Burlington Conservation District and the Colorado Section of the Society for Range Management as part of their youth activities program. The hosting FFA Chapters were Hi-Plains (Seibert), Stratton, Arickaree (Cope), and Flagler. Other sponsors were several of the conservation districts all across eastern Colorado. The generous support of these sponsors is greatly appreciated.
This rangeland educational event involved a total of 212 agriculture students representing 22 FFA chapters across eastern Colorado. Winning teams this year were Lone Star FFA (First Place Gold), Branson FFA (Gold), Stratton FFA (Silver), Arickaree FFA (Silver), Hoehne FFA (Bronze), and Fowler FFA (Bronze).
Students were divided into three groups to identify 50 range plant species and two ecological sites. During the plant identification portion students had one minute to identify the plant before moving on to the next plant. At the two ecological sites, students had 40 minutes to complete a rangeland inventory to determine the ecological site, condition of the site, and a range management scenario that was provided and required the students to recommend the best range/grazing management practices. Judging the two ecological sites also tested the students plant identification skills.
The Range Judging Contest is one of many FFA Career Development Events agriculture students can participate in to test their skills and knowledge learned through their agricultural education classes. Through the Range Judging Contest students are tested on their plant identification skills and reading the landscape to determine the ecological site, condition of the rangeland, amount of usable forage, and number of animals that can be supported on the land.
Thank you to all the FFA advisors, bus drivers, local Conservation Districts, the Colorado State Land Board and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service for helping make these events a success for all the participating high school ag students. A special thank you goes out to the Hatfield Ranch for allowing the use of their rangeland for this educational youth event.
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