FFA range judging getting ready for competition

With the start of the school year comes the start of multiple extracurricular events, including FFA range judging.
Jeremy Vlasin is the head coach for the FFA teams.
Vlasin has 15 students out this year; nine in the senior division—11 and 12th graders—and six in junior—9th and 10 graders.
First competition was held Tuesday in Harlan County.
Students practice four times a week in the mornings before school.
Range judging is a four-part competition.
“Students have a list of approximately 180 different plants out in Nebraska pastures,” Vlasin said.
During the contest, students have to identify 24 of those plants along with different characteristics of the plants, such as what type of plant it is, the plant’s growth season, the plant’s growth form and the livestock forage value of the plant.
Students also are given a stocking rate problem with ranch map practices to determine whether the example landowner has their past year correctly stocked with animals and if they are using the right types of practices to manage their land, Vlasin added.
Students also have to be able to identify three different ecological sites, know the name of the site, topography and plant community and, finally, determine if that site is in poor, fair, good or excellent condition.
During competition there is also a general knowledge test over range management in Nebraska.
“So each morning we are practicing one or multiple aspects of the contests,” Vlasin said. “It’s a lot to try to pack in to a three week window.”


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