Record number of students compete in eastern Colorado State FFA Range Judging Contest

Nakayla Lestina
USDA-NRCS, Sterling, Colo.
Students completing the rangeland inventory, site condition, and range management scenario on the Overflow ecological site.
Courtesy photo

On Oct. 3, high school students from across the eastern Colorado competed in the State FFA Range Judging Contest at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo.

The Range Judging Contest is one of many Career Development Events FFA 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. There were a record 268 FFA students representing 26 FFA chapters who participated in this event. Students were divided into three groups to identify 40-50 different range plant species and two ecological sites. During the plant identification portion, students had 60 seconds to identify the plant before moving on to the next plant. At the two ecological sites, students had 35 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 management practices. Judging the two ecological sites also tested the students plant identification skills.

Awards, provided by the Colorado Section of the Society for Range Management, were presented to the highest scoring individuals. The high scoring team awards were presented by FFA State Officers. Nathan Shannon, Kim FFA Chapter, was the highest scoring individual for the plant identification section. Matt Doherty, Kim FFA Chapter, was the highest overall scoring individual. For the teams, first place was awarded to the Kim FFA Chapter followed by Branson FFA (second place) and Fowler FFA (third place). Congratulations to all the students who participated in this event.

Thank you to all the FFA advisers, bus drivers, local Conservation Districts, NJC staff, NJC Agricultural Department faculty, NJC ag students, the Colorado State Land Board and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service for helping make this event a success for all the participating high school students. A special thank you goes out to Rick Jackson, David and Carson Guenzi, and Mike’s Meat Market for allowing us to use their rangeland and access for this educational youth event. ❖