Nemaha NRD Hosts Southeast Area Land Judging Near Auburn

Nemaha NRD Hosts Southeast Area Land Judging Near Auburn


AUBURN, Nebraska – A warm, sunny day greeted the 208 FFA students who competed at the annual Southeast Area Land Judging Contest. Held every fall, the 2020 contest took place on Oct. 7, 2020, east of Auburn, Nebraska. The contest was sponsored by the Nemaha Natural Resources District with assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Mark Willoughby, retired NRCS soil scientist.

Participants traveled among four pits on the farm and were tested on soil characteristics and recommended land treatment measures at each pit. In order to meet COVID-19 safety requirements, all students and adults wore face coverings and maintained social distancing. Also competitors stayed within their own school group instead of mixing with students from other schools. Schools arrived in 20-minute intervals, proceeded through the 4-station contest site, and left at the end of their school’s competition. Results were not announced in a group on the day of the contest as usual but instead were sent to all schools the following week.

FFA chapters who competed at this year’s southeast area contest came from Diller-Odell, Fairbury, Falls City, HTRS, Johnson-Brock, Johnson County Central, Lewiston, Meridian, Nebraska City, Palmyra, Pawnee City, Syracuse, and Tri County. Though students compete individually, four-member teams are also formed from each school based on their scores. The top four schools will advance one team each to the State Land Judging Contest scheduled October 28 in York County. Individually, anyone finishing in the top 10 who is not already on a state-qualifying team may also advance to the State contest.

Earning a berth at the State contest were the top four teams including first place finishing team Tri County composed of Gavin Weichel, Cole Siems, Brevin Damrow, and Landen Chapman. In second place was Lewiston’s team with members Masyn Arena, Ty Arena, Leah Christen, and Tristen Ray. Third place was awarded to the Diller-Odell team of Callan McKinney, Austin Jurgens, Zach Warren, and Cooper Ebeling. Rounding out the top four teams was Justin Brewer, David Kuker, Kyler Frederick, and Havyn Ruiz from Falls City.

Taking top honors in the individual competition were Masyn Arena from Lewiston followed by Diller-Odell’s Callan McKinney in second place. Tri County’s Gavin Weichel, Cole Siems, and Brevin Damrow claimed the next three purple ribbons. Jacob Wood representing Palmyra FFA placed sixth, and Diller Odell student Austin Jurgens earned seventh place. Justin Brewer and David Kuker, both from Falls City, rounded out the purple ribbon winners in eighth and ninth place. Tenth place and a blue ribbon went to Landen Chapman from Tri County. Since Wood was not on a State qualifying team, he earns a trip to the contest to compete as an individual only.

Though a bit unusual, this year’s contest still provided the youth an opportunity to use their skills and knowledge gained in preparing for the contest. Thanks to the students, instructors, school administration, NRD & NRCS staff, Mark Willoughby, and landowners Lynn & Jana Rogge, who allowed the contest to be held on their land, for working together to ensure a successful contest and hands-on learning opportunity for everyone involved.