After two years of hard work and dedication, the Gilmer County FFA land judging team will get their chance to compete at the National Land Judging Contest in Oklahoma in May of 2015. Land Judging has two separate components. The first is land judging, where students evaluate land for its agricultural use. The second part is homesite judging, where students evaluate land based on how good it is for a home. Both contests are done at the same time using the same field sites and soil judging pits.
The Gilmer team started its year off in mid May at a practice contest in Roane County where they placed third in each of the two contests. In a little over three weeks, they worked to improve for the regional contest which was held on a local farm in Gilmer County. At the regional contest the team placed second in land judging and won the homesite contest which put them first overall to qualify for the state contest. A month later, they headed to Ripley, West Virginia to begin practicing with land and soil like they would see in the state contest. On July 11, Gilmer County High school FFA had placed fifth in land judging and third in homesite judging out of thirteen of the best teams in the state. One of the GCHS team’s members, Lucas Steele, was the second place individual in the homesite evaluation contest. The GCHS team placed fifth overall which qualified the team for national competition, as the top five teams in each state are allowed to do.
West Virginia is one of the most competitive land judging states in the country and has a history of doing well at nationals. In the past Gilmer County has had state and national winning teams. Some of the skills that students had to master were erosion (judging how much top soil is present and how much has eroded), slope (judging how steep or flat the land is between two wooden stakes), and permeability (judging how quick water moves through the soil based on the soils components).
The team would like to thank everyone in the county who helped them achieve this great honor. On the team was Hunter Smith (son of Roger and Tammy Smith of Cedarville), Hunter Moore (Son of Arch and Tammy Moore of Glenville), Lucas Steele (son of Jeff and Royce Steele of Stouts Mills), and Adrea Peggs (Daughter of Mike and Mellissa Peggs of Sand Fork).