Colorado’s state rangeland competition increases in popularity | TheFencePost.com

Colorado’s state rangeland competition increases in popularity

Ben Berlinger said it's important for students to learn and understand how to assess rangelands, and Colorado's state rangeland judging contest showed, at least for the moment, there is an increased interest among FFA programs.

"We're really, really proud of the students and their agriculture instructors," said Berlinger, who is a range management specialist for the Natural Resources Conservation Services. "We've seen this event grow tremendously — really, we have — over the last 3-4 years from when I was involved in it for the first time. It's just been a tremendous increase, and I have to give credit to the ag teachers for realizing it's an important event and something that's important enough to work with their students."

Held Oct. 11 in Lamar, Colo., there were 19 FFA chapters — up four from last year — competing in the state rangeland contest, with the Fowler FFA Chapter finishing as the top team.

The highest scoring individual was Sandra Lockard from Lone Star FFA, based out of Otis, Colo., with a combined score of 80 percent between plant identification and assessment of two ecological sites. Lone Star was the third place team. With only a point below Lockard, Fowler's Jacquelin Alvey took second.

By being the top placers, Lockard and Alvey were invited to be Colorado's student representatives for the Society for Range Management's youth forum which will be February 2018 in Reno.

The second place team was the Kim FFA chapter, which won the southeastern Colorado regional contest. Fowler finished behind Kim at that regional.

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Berlinger said both chapters showed improvement, but Fowler showed the most. Part of that was due to Sennon Wallace from Fowler. She scored a 97 percent on the plant identification portion of the contest, which Berlinger said was a huge improvement and accomplishment, considering there were 50 plants for the students to identify, including specific knowledge of them. At the regional contest, which Wallace also competed in, Alvey was the top scorer overall and in plant identification.

The individual and team improvements were all a sign, to Berlinger that there is a level of awareness as to the importance placed on range management by instructors.

"It's an important enough part of (Colorado's agriculture industry) that (instructors) feel that their students need to have this awareness and education to know about the importance that rangelands play in the agricultural economy of Colorado," Berling said.

— Fox is a reporter for The Fence Post. For questions, comments or story ideas contact her at (970) 702-6417 or sfox@thfencepost.com. Connect with her on Twitter @FoxonaFarm.

Top finishers

Fowler FFA Chapter

Kim FFA Chapter

Lone Star FFA Chapter

Pritchett FFA Chapter

Arickaree FFA Chapter

Hoehne FFA Chapter

Top scoring individuals

Overall: Sandra Lockard, Lone Star FFA

Second overall: Jacquelin Alvey, Fowler FFA

Top plant identification score: Sennon Wallace, Fowler FFA

New FFA programs at state

McClave FFA

Springfield FFA

Florence FFA

Manzanola FFA