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NRCS Teams Up With Jack SWCD at the 55th Annual Land and Range Judging Contest

story by Randy Henry

The historic Fort Richardson near Jacksboro, Texas, was the perfect setting for the 55th annual Jack Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Land and Range Judging Contest on March 3, 2011. The well-preserved land at Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway, located adjacent to Fort Richardson State Park and the Pete Woolsey Ranch, provided several hundred students with an experience that must have been similar to the first contest participants in 1956.

Within the three areas of competition, the land judging part of the contest introduces students to soil texture, soil permeability, soil depth, slope percentage, soil loss due to erosion, and the movement of surface water across the top soil. Range judging helps the students acquire skills in conserving and improving the rangeland, along with having plant identification (ID) sites accompanying the range sites. During the plant ID portion of the contest, students have to identify various species of forbs, legumes, grasses, and woody plants.

The land contest was held on the Pete Woolsey Ranch near Jacksboro, along with the plant ID and range contest being held at the Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway. The contest is open to 4-H members and FFA students from across the state.

"The contest went off without any problems, and we had a lot of great students and assistants participating in this 55th annual contest," said Carolann Corado, Jack Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) manager in Bowie, Texas. "This year's contest was very competitive, and we are lucky to have the help and support of NRCS as well as our local partners and volunteers."

Besides Corado, volunteers that helped with the contest included Jack SWCD board members Levi Kirk, Anna Fitzgerald, Jerry Henderson, along with SWCD employees Joe Ray Burkett, Tyler Garrison, and Chawn Jobe. Also, Charlie Upchurch and Don Brandenberger, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board field representatives for State District 5, and Kilea Miller prepared a great lunch for all the students and volunteers.

NRCS personnel helping out with the contest included Matt Gregory, Jerry Gleason, Troy Reinke, Rafael Aldrich, Carrie Shipps, Wynne Whitworth, Nathan Haile, and Lem Creswell. From the surrounding community, volunteers included Darrell and Lori McBrayer, Neely Tipton, Pete Woolsey, James Logan, Bret Hull, Joe Edens, Charles Bush, and the county precinct one crew.

The final top individual and team results for the plant identification portion of the contest are as follows:
Place Individual Name Score
1st Shawn Walton (Hamilton) 221
2nd Chase Thompson (Jacksboro) 96
3rd Megan Harris (Jacksboro) 92 (tie)
3rd Ashley Lane (Jacksboro) 92 (tie)
Place Team Name Score
1st Jacksboro 251
2nd Hamilton 221
3rd Munday 49
The final top individual and team results for the range portion of the contest are as follows:
Place Individual Name Score
1st Rubisel Ramirez (Hamilton) 395
2nd Colton Bradshaw (Anson) 381 (tie)
2nd Tyson Rater (Jacksboro) 381 (tie)
4th Cheslee Hearn (Haskell) 378
Place Team Name Score
1st Hamilton 1,127
2nd Haskell 1,067
3rd Weatherford 1,007
The final top individual and team results for the land contest portion are as follows:
Place Individual Name Final Score
1st Kelby McCorkle (Coleman) 230
2nd Sarah Joiner (Bridgeport) 228
3rd Taylor Murphy (Klein) 222
Place Team Name Final Score
1st Pecos 627
2nd Coleman 624
3rd Graford 613

To locate all the final individual and team results from the 55th annual Jack SWCD Land and Range Judging Contest, please go to the website www.judgingcard.com and read all the names that competed in the contest.

Land Contest and Students

Plant ID and Student

Several students are estimating the depth of the soil surface while others wait their turn at the land judging portion of the 55th annual Jack SWCD Land and Range Judging Contest held on March 3rd at the Pete Woolsey Ranch near Jacksboro, Texas.

During the Plant ID portion of the land and range judging contest, one student concentrates to correctly answer what type of plant species is at that particular site.

Two students write their answers after examining the type of grass species enclosed in a border-taped area

Two contest participants write their answers after examining the type of grass species enclosed in the border-taped area at one of the sites in the range judging portion of the 55th annual Jack SWCD Land and Range Judging Contest held on March 3rd at the Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway near Fort Richardson State Park in Jacksboro, Texas.

55 Years and Going Strong

The Upper West Fork Soil Conservation District (SCD), representing multiple counties, held its first Land Judging Contest in May of 1956. The contest was sponsored by the Agriculture Committee of the Graham Chamber of Commerce. Seven teams, including four FFA teams and three 4-H Club teams entered the contest, which was won by the Jack County 4-H Club.

The District's first Annual Grass Judging Contest, sponsored by the Jacksboro Chamber of Commerce and the Jacksboro Lions Club, was held that same year. Seven teams including five FFA teams and two 4-H Club teams competed in the contest. The winner in this contest was the Jacksboro FFA team.

At the time the land contest was started, the Upper West Fork SCD included all of Young County, the southeastern corner of Archer County, the southern part of Clay County, the southwestern corner of Montague County, all but the southwestern corner of Jack County, and the western half of Wise County. The contest rotated between the counties until the Upper West Fork SCD split, and Jack became its own SWCD in 1979, though the name didn't change from Upper West Fork to Jack until 1981. The Jack SWCD has remained the host of this contest. It is one of the major outreach activities for the SCWD board each year, with extensive community support.

Jack Land 1956 Winners Jack Land Late 50s

The Jack County 4-H team that won the first land contest in1956.

Thanks to great land conservation efforts in Jack County, today's contest participants are able to have a very similar land judging experience as these participants in the inaugural land judging contest in 1956.