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Land Judging Workshop Held in Lawrence County

By Kathy Gotcher, District Conservationist, NRCS, Moulton, AL.

Land Judging1

NRCS District Conservationist Wade Hill (r) discusses recommended agronomic practices, and plant identification at the pasture site.

Last fall at the district land judging contest, a couple of Ag teachers talked to USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Conservationist Blake Garner from Cullman County. They said they wished they could get more direction on how to teach the concepts needed for the contest. They also wanted their students to get more exposure and practice for the event. This opened up a discussion to find a way to meet these objectives.

The group decided that the best way to train the students was to organize a multi-county mock contest where the students and teachers would go through the normal land judging contest routine. Afterwards, NRCS employees would discuss the correct answers and how the answers were derived. They added different scenarios so that the participants could see if different boundaries were given, how it would have changed the thought process.

Blake began to organize a workshop that was held in June 2014 in the Speake Community of Lawrence County. Students from seven Counties (Cullman, Lawrence, Marion, Morgan, Winston, Etowah, and Walker) and 18 Schools were represented which included about 75 students and 19 teachers.

The workshop was setup just like a contest. The students and teachers judged each site, and then a leader at each pit went over the answers and explained how they were determined.

At the end of the day, the NRCS State Resource Inventory Coordinator Pam Mason from Auburn, Alabama, discussed the day’s events and solicited feedback and recommendations for changes to the official FFA Land Judging Handbook.

NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) staff from multi counties, along with other NRCS specialists, made the event happen. We thank everyone that participated in the planning, coordination, setup, and the actual event. This was a team effort, and it would not have been possible without the help of the people listed below.

• Lawrence County SWCD/NRCS: Kathy Gotcher, Amy Moncus, Henrietta Taylor, and Don Beauchamp
• Cullman County SWCD/NRCS: Murray Griffin, Blake Garner, Travis Kress, Johnny Grantham, Pat Smith,
   and Deb Widner
• Marion/Winston Counties: Wade Hill
• Morgan County: Travis Badger (WAE)
• MLRA #18-3 Soil Survey, Normal, AL: Chris Ford, Eddie Davis, Zac Hayes, and student intern Kalauna Carter
• Resource Conservationist Tracy Cole from Rainsville
• Resource Soil Scientist Milton Tuck from Tuscaloosa.

A special thanks goes to Terry Youngblood (Ag Teacher at Meek High School) who prepared the meal of smoked chicken quarters, baked beans, and potato salad. Pepsi-Cola Distribution Center in Cullman donated bottled water for the event.

Every post evaluation form that was received indicated interest in making this workshop a regular event. We will work to make it happen again next year.

Land Judging3NRCS Soil Scientist Eddie Davis demonstrates a method for determining the amount of erosion that has taken place, as well as soil horizons and how to determine the horizon breaks.

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NRCS MLRA 18-3 Project Leader Chris Ford (c) demonstrates a method for texturing soil.