2024 Manatee County Land Judging Competition

The 63rd annual Manatee County Land Judging competition, sponsored by the Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District (MRSWCD), was held on February 22nd at Duette Preserve. Fifty-three students answered a variety of questions concerning the soil properties of four fields in criteria such 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. Top teams from the local contest will go on to represent Manatee County in the State Land Judging Contest. The results from the local contest are below.

Manatee County Results

High School FFA

John Keen, FFA student from Parrish Community High School, won the I.H. Stewart Award, sponsored by Kimley-Horn and Associates with the highest individual overall score.

Winner of I.H. Stewart award for highest overall score
High Point Overall Winner, I.H. Stewart Award-John Keen, Parrish Community High School

A team from Parrish Community High School – John Keen, Makayla Chenard, Kaycee Kirby, and George Chenard, advised by Susan Grainger – won the Callon Keen Sr. Award, sponsored by the Keen family, for the highest scoring team overall. They also placed first in the FFA high school division.

Highest Scoring team overall
Callon Keen Sr. Award for Highest Scoring Team Overall-Parrish Community High School. L to R: Makayla Chenard, John Keen, George Chenard, and Kaycee Kirby.

Placing second in the high school FFA division was a team from Southeast High School – Caitlyn Cooke, Payton Suggs, Noah Baylor, and Dakota Johnson – advised by Mike Buckley. A team from Palmetto High School placed third – Hayden Neumann, Kayla Burkhardt, Brendan Perry, and Jacob Hanlon – advised by Julie Tillett.

Middle School FFA

A team from Buffalo Creek Middle School – Savanna Schue, Adrianna Frisse, Marlee Schaal, and Cody Rhoades – won the Travis Seawright Award, sponsored by the Manatee County Land Judging Alumni, for the highest scoring middle school team. They also placed first in the FFA middle school division.

Travis Seawright Award-1st Place Middle School Division- Buffalo Creek Middle School. L to R: Marlee Schaal, Savanna Schue, Adrianna Frisse, and Cody Rhoades

Finishing in second place was another FFA team from Buffalo Creek Middle School – Willow Pomatto, Auburn Phillips, Gabriella Young, and Caroline Steward. Another team from Buffalo Creek Middle School placed third – Viktor Krywko, Olivia Flamm, Alyssa Doerrler, and Olivia Lingle. Steve Harber advised all participating Buffalo Creek Middle School students.

Also participating in the contest were students from Braden River Middle School FFA, advised by Jane Beach, and guest teams from Orange County representing Ocoee High and SunRidge Middle Schools. These teams, advised by Savannah Hardman and Travis Eisentraut, were not competing.


In the 4-H senior division, the team comprised of Micah Foy, Sydney Bliss, and Jake Pritchett placed first. Cole Arrant, Clayton Reagan, and Emma Hakes placed first in the 4-H intermediate division. Placing first in the 4-H junior division were Amanda Hakes, Barrett Woodham, and Lillian Reagan. All 4-H students were coached by Amy and Tom Arrant.

4-H Senior-1st place- L to R: Sydney Bliss, Jake Pritchett, and  Micah Foy.
4-H Intermediate-1st place L to R:  Emma Hakes, Clayton Reagan, and Cole Arrant.
4-H Junior-1st place L to R: Lillian Reagan, Barrett Woodham, and Amanda Hakes.

Sponsors, staff, and volunteers

Alec Hoffner, Senior Scientist with Kimley-Horn & Associates and alumnus of the Manatee County Land Judging contest, served as Chief Judge. MRSWCD Supervisors Buddy Keen, Michael Ingram, and Julie Tillett attended, as did Jimmy and Holly Keen. Buddy Keen assisted with presenting the medals. The Callon Keen Sr. award was presented by Keen family members Buddy and Jimmy Keen. Jimmy Keen assisted with awarding the remaining award plaques.  Lunch was sponsored by Bart Hoopingarner representing Gowan. The Mosaic Company sponsored the medals for the students.  Manatee County Cattlemen’s Association provided tables and chairs. Staff from both Manatee and Sarasota County Agriculture & Extension Services, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service were instrumental in conducting a successful contest. Thanks to Manatee County Natural Resources Department for the use of Duette Preserve.  After the contest, Chief Judge Hoffner reviewed the results with the students.

Chief Judge Alec Hoffner reviews the results with the competitors after the contest.

For more information visit http://landjudging.org/

By Ethan Grossman, Soil Conservation Planner.


Posted: February 26, 2024

Category: 4-H & Youth, Agriculture, Conservation
Tags: 4-H, Land Judging, NRCS

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