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Alabama NRCS Hosts Land Judging Workshop for Agriscience Teachers

Auburn, Ala, July 8, 2010

Agriscience Teachers attend Land Judging Workshop.

On June 29-30, 2010, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) hosted a workshop for the Alabama FFA Association’s Land Career Development Event (CDE), commonly known as land judging event.

Twenty-nine high school agriscience teachers from across the state joined the workshop, making it the most attended workshop ever.

The first day was an indoor session devoted to clarifying and updating the CDE rules and how to improve and promote the event. Every teacher had the opportunity to express ideas on making the rules clear and the competition a better learning experience and more enjoyable for their students. In the afternoon, NRCS State Administrative Officer Heather Pouncy joined the group to discuss career opportunities available with NRCS.

The second day was spent in the field with NRCS technical staff and participating in demonstrations on four sites--forestland, homesite, cropland, and pastureland. The ag teachers had the chance to discuss with the experts how to sharpen the skills of their students to better prepare them for the competitions.

To be an effective competitor, students must know the difference in soils and their capabilities, methods of soil conservation and improvement, treatments to help obtain higher production, and how to select suitable home sites. The teachers are passionately involved in helping their local high school team members learn more about land to prepare them for land judging in county, district, state, and national contests.

NRCS staff included State Staff Forester Tim Albritton, State Agronomists Eddie Jolley and Eric Schwab, MLRA Soil Survey Leader Lawrence McGhee, and Elmore, Coosa, and Tallapoosa Counties District Conservationist Pam Mason. Alabama FFA Association Education Specialist Philip Paramore, from the Agriscience Education Auburn Field Office coordinated the registration with the ag teachers.

Tim Albritton said, “The workshop was very good. The teachers seemed to enjoy the training and found it worthwhile. We had an excellent group and some new faces.”

At each CDE competition, high school teams consist of four students. The team members evaluate four sites, forestland, homesite, cropland, and pastureland. Each site has a soil pit so students can see all the layers of the soil. At each site, students describe the features of the land such as slope and soil texture and structure and rate the land capability class. Students then evaluate the soil for its land use whether it is production agriculture or building homes, and estimate drainage and erosion. After the land is evaluated, students use score cards to make recommendations for land conservation practices. Scores are based on how closely students’ evaluations match evaluations of the official judges.

For more information on the Alabama FFA Association Land Career Development Event, visit their website at: http://www.alabamaffa.org/