Local Woodland Clinic, Land Judging, and Forage Evaluation Competitions Held
story by Julia McCormick, NRCS Soil Conservationist, Jasper
On April 9, 2012, twenty-seven teams representing 4-H or FFA from multiple counties in East Texas participated in a woodland clinic, land judging, and forage evaluation competitions. This event was hosted by the Lower Sabine-Neches Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) and was supported by several surrounding SWCDs and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employees.
The Texas Forest Service (TFS) provided the competition site at Masterson State Forest near Buna in Jasper County. It is a 620-acre demonstration forest and was donated to the TFS for woodland education.
During the woodland clinic, students were tested at five woodland stations in the areas of thinning, regeneration, timber wildlife forage, site management concerns, pine identification, site index, compass and pacing, rate of growth, wood identification, volume, wood products, hardwood identification, and cull tree removal.
Several teams that qualified at the contest also qualified to compete at the State Woodland Clinic held on April 18 at the Angelina National Forest Plant Material Center in Nacogdoches. In fact, all of the top winners at the State Woodland Competition qualified at the Masterson State Forest site to compete at the Southern Regional Woodland Clinic to be held in Texarkana. Qualifiers included three FFA teams from Dayton, Warren, and Central Heights. The Helping Hands 4-H team from Jasper, also qualified.
In land judging, three teams rotated through four soil pits where they were evaluated on their knowledge on factors such as soil texture, soil slope, root depth, and erosion control. In forage evaluation, four teams competed. Hamshire-Fannett FFA won first place. Newton FFA placed second.
"We are very proud of all of the teams that competed. They showed remarkable courtesy and sportsmanship throughout the entire Woodland Clinic competition process. We are very fortunate to contribute in a small way to the future of our children's education and the future of land stewardship in East Texas," said Kevin Isom, a NRCS resource team leader in Jasper.
Students identify pine species from branch samples of Loblolly, Longleaf, Short Leaf, and Slash.
Students and an instructor discuss land judging after the contest.