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Tyler County FFA Places First in National Contest

By Staff | May 22, 2019

Pictured is the Tyler County FFA team with their medals and trophies. From left to right is Creed Ammons, Megan Vandruff, Madison Craven, and Nick Spencer.


Staff Writer

Tyler County FFA participated in the National Land and Range Judging contest on May 2 in Concho, Oklahoma on the Cheyenne Arapaho Native American Indian Reservation. Their team competed in the Land Judging and Homesite Evaluation contest.

Out of 102 teams competing in the Land Judging contest, Tyler County FFA placed first place.

One member of the Tyler County FFA team – Nick Spencer – explained what this competion entailed. “Land Judging is a contest where we try to find the best use of the land and agricultural purposes. We have to get inside of a hole, and find erosion, which is the difference between the topsoil and the subsoil. We have to find what that texture is. There’s coarse – which is more sand, mod-coarse – which is a sand with some loam, a medium – which is mainly loam, then a mod-fine which is loam and clay, and then fine with mainly clay and a little bit of sand. Then we have to find slope, which is a lot different in Oklahoma than in West Virginia.”

Spencer said that in West Virginia, the highest cutoff is 35 percent, which is reportedly “very steep”. However, in Oklahoma, Spencer conveyed that it was 15 percent.

“We have to use the precentage from slope to work with surface run-off, which is the run-off of water. We have to determine land class, which is the purpose of the land. There are land classes one through eight.” he continued.

The Tyler County FFA team also competed Homesite Evaluation. While 55 teams competed in this, Tyler County won the fourth place title.

Creed Ammons – Tyler County FFA President – also gave an explanation for this competion. “Homesite evaluation is the real world process of taking what you learn in land judging and converting it over to homesite. In the home site contest, you get to determine if the land is suitable to build a house, with the factors of what your base would be, the soil as well as the flood plains, and the slope you would build your foundation on. The things we determine in homesite are real world applications that can be used in regular day-to-day activities like deciding if you want to build your house in certain fields. It’s an easy way to do so…and you can determine if the house would be suitable there or not.”

When asked about preparation for this competition, Spencer conveyed that it was a year long process where they studied various numbers as this was information they were required to memorize in order to determine land class. One Tyler County FFA Advisor – Leon Ammons – also explained how the team prepared for the competition. “When we started here, we started with soil textures. Once we got out there we tried to put it all together.”

Mr. Ammons also expressed, “Their success comes from the previous teams that have been there before. It allows Ms. Erwin and I to get better at teaching them, plus the fact that we’ve been there and get to bring sample-type soil back with us to get them started. It allows this team to get a pretty good jump in being prepared for the national contest.”

It was said by Mr. Ammons that this year marks the 60 year that West Virginia has competed in the national contest. It was also 60 years ago that the first West Virginia FFA team won. As such, Mr. Ammons conveyed that West Virginia is known to do very well in these competitions.

In regards to this year’s team, Mr. Ammons said, “These kids really worked hard… Hard work does pay off.”

When discussing their experience at the competition, Spencer talked about the twenty hour drive to Oklahoma, their chaperone or “hole digger” Joe Henthorn, and their preparation while there. Spencer said that in addition to enjoying their time there, they practiced inside different holes. “We would get up and be out when the sun was up, and we’d go back in when it was dark.”

It was also said that weather conditions on Tuesday were very wet. However, despite this, Tyler County’s FFA team still went out to practice. Spencer said, “Out of all ther other teams that could have went to this practice competition on Tuesday, us and the other West Virginia teams that went were the only ones out there in the rain.”

FFA team member Madison Craven said that as a result of this practice competition, they all were forced to pour water out of their boots afterwards.

In another victory for Tyler County, Craven was recognized as the first place winner out of 405 people for the High Individual in Land Judging. “They rank individual’s basic score. The perfect score would’ve been 300, and she scored at 268. She was the highest scoring individual that day, and was recognized as the national champion for that.” Mr. Ammons explained. Craven also placed seventh place out of 211 for Homesite Evaluation.

In regards to the competition, Ammons said, “It was a great experience. We began our trip towards nationals a year ago… Putting in all that hard work was a positive once we were able to win the contest out there. We dedicated a whole year of working hard towards this goal, and we were finally able to accomplish it.”

A congratulations is issued to the Tyler County FFA chapter for their hard work and dedication in achieving this goal.