West Virginia FFA and 4-H teams win at national land judging contest

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Abbi Kimble works in a pit while Ardynn Weekley works outside during a practice contest before the National Land and Range Judging Contest in Oklahoma. (Submitted photo)

When the top 10 teams at the 69th National Land and Range Judging Contest were being announced, the team from West Virginia’s Tyler FFA waited with bated breath.

The last time the National Land and Range Judging Contest in Oklahoma City was held, in 2019, the team took first place in the land judging category. If they won again, they’d be back-to-back champions.

“When they called the second place team, we all kind of screamed with joy,” said senior Garrett Ammons. “It wasn’t the most professional thing, but we were also really excited we won because of the work we put in.”

The team from Tyler Consolidated High School took first place in land judging and second place in homesite judging on May 5. Ammons was also named individual champion in homesite evaluation with a perfect score. 

The other Tyler FFA team members were senior Ardynn Weekley and juniors Abbi Kimble and Brooklyn Wayne.

“It was crazy how many people were there, and a little school from west Virginia, Tyler county won grand,” Kimble said. “It was crazy.”

The Barbour County 4-H, of West Virginia, took first in land judging on the 4-H side of the contest, with Jaxon Carpenter taking the individual championship. The team consisted of Carpenter, Clinton Auvil, Harley Knotts and Carliegh Stemple. Knotts took the individual championship title in homesite evaluation and reserve in land judging.

From left: Tyler FFA alumni Joe Henthorn, Tyler FFA team members Ardynn Weekley, Garrett Ammons, Abbi Kimble, Brooklyn Wayne, and coaches Annie Erwin and Leon Ammons. (Submitted photo)

Winning legacy

This was the sixth national championship Tyler has won. The team has won four land judging titles and two in homesite evaluation, said Annie Erwin, Tyler FFA adviser and team coach. 

During the contest, teams must evaluate four field sites on various soil factors like texture, depth, slope and structure. Then, they score each site based on their interpretation of all the soil properties.

Contestants have 20 minutes and a pencil, knife, towel and a scorecard to judge each site. There’s no talking or collaborating allowed during the judging process. Each member competes individually and the scores are tallied together for the team score.

The Tyler FFA team was gone for 10 days to travel to Oklahoma, practice and compete. This included five days of practice in the new terrain.  The prep for the contest is both physical and mental. They have to memorize information about the soil, but then learn how to find that information and evaluate it on the fly. 

Even though they compete separately, they have to be each other’s cheerleaders through the entire process, Erwin said. 

“It’s a true test in personalities and getting along,” she said. “This team at the end of 10 days still likes each other … And it’s a true team event. You depend on each other to learn and do well out there.”

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be reached at rachel@farmanddairy.com or 800-837-3419.)

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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