Land Judging Competitors Qualify for State Contest

The 61st annual Land Judging competition, sponsored by the Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District, was held in late February at the Ed Chance Preserve-Gilley Creek Tract. Thirty students answered test questions concerning soil properties at four fields in such categories as slope, depth, texture, permeability, erosion, and nutrients. One of the fields represented a potential homesite location, and students were questioned on how well the land could serve as a building site.


High School FFA

Angelina Cao, FFA student from Southeast High School, won the I.H. Stewart Award, sponsored by Ardurra Group, Inc., with the highest individual overall score.

High Scoring Land Judging student with award presenter
Award presenter Jimmy Keen and IH Stewart Award winner Angelina Cao-Land Judging High Scoring Individual-Southeast High School

A team from Parrish Community High School – James Keen, Marissa Souders, Duniyah Morkus, and Makayla Chenard – advised by Susan Grainger won the Callon Keen Sr. Award, sponsored by the Keen family, for the highest scoring team overall.   They placed first in the FFA high school division.

Land Judging FFA High School 1st place team
FFA High School 1st place team-names as above L to R.

Placing second in the high school FFA division was a team from Southeast High School- Angelina Cao, Caitlyn Cooke, Payton Suggs, Dakota Johnson – advised by Mike Buckley. A team from Palmetto High School placed third – Donovan Dolan, Alex Ryherd, Hayden Newman, and Brendan Perry – advised by Julie Tillett.

Land Judging 2nd place team High School FFA-Southeast High School
FFA High School 2nd place team- names as above L to R.


FFA High School-3rd place team- names as above L to R.

Middle School FFA

A team from Buffalo Creek Middle School – Owen Griffin, Cole Arrant, George Chenard, and Kallee Rhoades- won the Travis Seawright Award, sponsored by the Manatee County Land Judging Alumni, for the highest scoring middle school team.

Middle School FFA First place team
Middle School FFA. 1st place team- names as above L to R.

Finishing in second place was a second FFA team from Buffalo Creek Middle School – Ethan Rademan, Lane McIlwaine, and Hylie Connors. Steve Harber advised participating Buffalo Creek Middle School students.

Middle School FFA 2nd place team
Middle School FFA-2nd place team, names as above L to R.


In the 4-H senior division, the team comprised of Holly Bergmann, Sydney Bliss, and Jake Pritchett placed first. Team members Micah Foy, Caden Cone, and Cody Rhoades placed first in the 4-H intermediate division. All 4-H students were coached by Amy and Tom Arrant.

4-H Senior 1st place team
4-H Senior-1st place team, names as above L to R.
4-H intermediate 1st place team.
4-H Intermediate 1st place team-names as shown above L to R

Sponsors, staff, and volunteers

Isabelle Giuliani, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Area 3 Resource Soil Scientist, served as Chief Judge. Keen family members Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor Buddy Keen, Jimmy Keen, and Holly Keen attended. Jimmy Keen presented the plaques to the students, and MRSWCD Chair Paul Howard presented the medals.  Lunch was sponsored by Bart Hoopingarner and Brett Reeder representing Gowan and UPL, respectively. Manatee County Cattlemen’s Association provided tables and chairs. Manatee County Extension Service staff, Sarasota County Extension Service staff, and NRCS staff were instrumental in conducting a successful contest. After the contest, the Chief Judge reviewed the results with the students.


Soil Judge reviews the contest results with the students
Soil Judge Isabelle Giuliani reviews contest results with the students.

State contest

Congratulations to our first place FFA and 4-H teams who qualified to compete in the state land judging competition in late March.   For more information visit


Posted: February 28, 2022

Category: 4-H & Youth, Agriculture, Conservation, Events, SFYL Hot Topic
Tags: 4-H, Land Judging, NRCS

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