National Land & Range Contest Draws Competitors from Across U.S.Tue, 22 Apr 2014 11:24:55 CDT
Approximately 1,000 FFA and 4-H Chapter members, parents, coaches, and teachers from across the United States will converge on Oklahoma City from April 29 – May 1, 2014, as they have for more than six decades, to compete in the National Land and Range Judging Contest. This 63rd annual three-day event stresses soil and plant science and land management and conservation.
After two days of opportunity for contestants to visit practice sites (April 29 – 30), official events will begin on the morning of Thursday, May 1. Land judging and homesite evaluation events will begin at 9:15 a.m. and range judging will begin at 9:30 a.m. The contest events will be followed by an evening awards banquet at in the Great Hall of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Championship trophies will be awarded to team and individual winners in each category.
The Land Judging contestants qualify for the national event by placing among the top five teams at contests in their home states, according to contest cochairman Kim Farber. Farber is president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, one of the contest's principal sponsors.
Contestants are tasked with judging the adaptability of the land for various purposes including farming, range management, and home development. The skills developed in competition can be adapted to careers in fields such as natural resource conservation, environmental and agricultural management, and homebuilding and construction.
Farber notes the idea of a land judging contest was invented by three Oklahoma conservationists in 1943. They decided which soil qualities could be judged and developed score cards to test skills. The idea caught on and Oklahoma City has been hosting the national contest since 1952.
As soon as the contestants arrive they will go to a practice site near Oklahoma City where numerous pits have been dug to give them a chance to analyze and learn more about Oklahoma soil conditions. Contestants also have the opportunity to examine Oklahoma range conditions for livestock grazing and wildlife management purposes.
The actual contest sites will remain secret until just before each event, so no one has an unfair advantage. Contestants will gather at the Biltmore Hotel to register, receive procedural instructions and await disclosure of the official contest sites. Coaches and contestants will then travel in a caravan to the site that is a tract of land in or near the greater metro area.
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