By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – Who would have thought the Super Bowl would have an effect on the Grapeland FFA chapter? With all the planning that went into maybe the greatest Super Bowl ever, one little detail may have been missed which gave the Grapeland FFA a chance to shine during National FFA Week as the chapter hosted a Land Judging and Homesite Evaluation contest earlier this week.

Because Super Bowl LI was held in Houston, the start date of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was pushed back to March 7. As a result, several FFA contests were also pushed back, including several land judging events, which opened the door for the creation of the Grapeland FFA Invitational Land Judging and Homesite Evaluation contest.

Prior to its Wednesday start, Grapeland FFA Advisor Shellee Goolsby discussed the event.

“We usually try and

The Grapeland FFA Land Judging team participated in the Bedias Creek Soil Conservation contest on February 16th. The contest was held at the Leon County Expo Center and there were teams from 14 schools participating. Grapeland’s team placed first with Nathan Little placing 6th high individual and Stevie Reynolds placing 1st high individual and earning a $250.00 scholarship for her efforts. Other team members are Rebekah Turner and JD Martin. Leon County Judge presented the awards.

go to three or four practice contests, but with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo having to bump back a week later because of the Super Bowl, some of the contests we usually go to got bumped to the week of our Houston County Fair. There were no other contests around here locally, so we decided to get our kids some practice and experience and we decided to host a contest,” Goolsby explained.

The contest will be held at God’s Gift Ranch owned by Tom and Vicki Gates.

“Mr. Gates heard us talking about it and he said we could do the contest out here,” she said.

As to what the contest entails, Goolsby explained the FFA students would judge top soil, subsoil and erosion.

“They go in and classify the land as to whether it is pasture land or subject to flooding. The students divide it into certain classes and report on what you need to do to maintain the land. On the homesite part, it is very similar to the land judging but they look at specifically where a home might be built. It’s a good contest and good information for them to know,” she said.

The land judging and homesite evaluation rules used in the contest are based on those drawn up in Oklahoma.

According to the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, “Land judging looks at soil characteristics to determine its quality and capabilities. Examples of areas reviewed are erosion, slope, drainage and permeability. Reviewing these characteristics allows students to learn about how our soil can be used, how different soils should be managed and, most importantly, how to conserve one of our critical natural resources. Range judging teaches students how to properly identify plants, their growth habits and their value for livestock, as well as how to best manage and preserve range land to maximize use and minimize negative impact.”

Goolsby said this is a practice meet for the area competition held in the spring. The top five teams from the area contest qualify for the state meet and the top five teams in the state qualify for the national competition held in Oklahoma City, she said.

While the Grapeland FFA teams will not be competing in the contest, Goolsby said the students will receive some useful information as they will tour the area with a soil conservationist who will help them learn what to look for when judging land or evaluating a homesite.

She added the Grapeland FFA students will not participate in their own contest in order to try and avoid any appearance of impropriety but will help facilitate the event in order to ensure everything runs the way it should smooth.

More than 100 students from 10 schools participated in the event held on Wednesday, Feb. 22. For more details and the results of the Grapeland FFA Invitational Land Judging and Homesite Evaluation Contest, please see the Sunday, Feb. 26 edition of The Messenger.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.