By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Grapeland FFA hosted its first Land Judging and Homesite Evaluation Career Development Event on Wednesday, Feb. 22 and saw more than 100 participants from 13 different schools competing in the events.

Grapeland FFA Advisor Gary Graham explained how the contest was set up.

“There are four different fields and the students have 20 minutes to judge each field. They will judge topsoil texture, surface texture, permeability, subsoil, the depth of the soil, any erosion that is present, the surface run-off on the soil and the slope of the land. They take all of those factors and put it into a land capability class. This tells them if the land is capable of farming or if it needs to be turned into pasture land,” he said.

Graham explained the Grapeland FFA was hosting two different contests at the same time using the same fields.

“One of these is land judging and the other is homesite judging. I always refer to the homesite competition as urban land judging. The students are judging the same thing. They are looking at the same soil, they are looking at the same topsoil, subsoil, permeability and slope but the homesite competitors are looking at it from the perspective of we are putting in a home, a residential development, school, shopping center or whatever,” he said.

“The competitors are judging this as to what it might do to the foundation of the building,” Graham continued. “Do we need to bring in different soils? Do we need to change slopes and what about the sewage system or a septic system?”

The FFA advisor said after the 20 minute time limit, the judging cards would be turned in to the group leaders in each field.

“The group leaders today are my FFA students. They’re not competing,” he explained.

After the allotted 20 minutes, the students would rotate to the next field and begin the judging process all over again until all four fields were completed.

In a contest like this, we try and find things that will make it a good contest because everyone comes to these competitions trying to prepare for area and state. It is similar to a preseason football or basketball game. These are the contests that start tuning up the teams and trying to get them ready. It is a time to learn and get better,” Graham said.

“Not counting our kids and the coaches, we have about 120 competitors out here,” he said.

The Homesite Evaluation part of the contest team results showed: Onalaska in first place with 1021 points; Madisonville in second with 964 points; Hamilton in third with 913 points; Central Heights in fourth place with 765 points; Woden in fifth place with 702 points; and Teague in sixth place with 529 points.

The top 10 individuals competing in the homesite evaluation competition are listed below with the school they represented, their name and the score posted:

  1. Onalaska Casey Neuman                 355
  2. Onalaska Shane Stephens               343
  3. Madisonville Blake George             332
  4. Madisonville Regan Smith              329
  5. Hamilton Evan Eilers                       328
  6. Onalaska Tori Newport                    323
  7. Teague Lawson Allison                    316
  8. Madisonville Austin Longoria        303
  9. Hamilton Branson Armstrong       294
  10. Hamilton Austin Weaver                291

The land judging part of the competition team results showed:

  1. Mount Vernon #1                             738
  2. Rusk #1                                               721
  3. Madisonville                                      701
  4. Rusk #2                                              679
  5. Onalaska #1                                       668
  6. Avery #1                                             667
  7. New Summerfield                            646
  8. Teague                                               593
  9. Oakwood                                           558
  10. Rusk #4                                             553

The top 10 individuals competing in the land judging competition are listed below with the school they represented, their name and the score posted:

  1. Mount Vernon #1 Kris Siddens                        258
  2. Madisonville Randall Navarro                          242
  3. Rusk #2 Brayden Pike                                        241
  4. Rusk #1 Nicole Phifer                                         238
  5. Mount Vernon #1 Savanna Oud                       237
  6. Rusk #1 Julia Morgan                                         234
  7. New Summerfield Adan Suarez                        230
  8. Madisonville Matthew Longoria                       230
  9. Rusk #1 Emmy Shaw                                          229
  10. Mount Vernon #1 Cade Hyman                        227

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