Local Teams Named Champions at State Land Judging Contest

The State Land Judging Contest was held in early April in Manatee County. Thirty-eight FFA and 4-H teams from across the state competed, with 23 teams in the FFA high school division, 12 teams in the FFA middle school division, and three Manatee County 4-H teams in the 4-H divisions.

At land judging contests, students observe and interpret the soil in order to make wise land use decisions. They answer questions concerning the soil properties of four fields in criteria such as slope, depth, texture, permeability, erosion, and nutrients. One of the fields represents a potential homesite location, and students are questioned on how well the land could serve as a building site.

Hosted by the Manatee River Soil and Water Conservation District (MRSWCD), the contest was held on the property of Christina (Shelly) Dakin d.b.a. Farren Dakin Dairy LLC and Boyz Ag LLC in Myakka City.  Check-in took place at Myakka Family Worship Center, with welcoming remarks from MRSWCD board members and landowner representatives Shelly Dakin and Laurie Dupuy. The contest has special meaning to the Dakin Family, since Shelly Dakin’s husband Farren Dakin (deceased) won the highest scoring individual award at land judging in 1971.  MRSWCD board members attending were Paul Howard, Buddy Keen, Julie Tillett, and Michael Ingram.  The Dakin Family Scholarship Fund provided a donation to the Florida FFA Foundation to be distributed for select awards.

Gathering of State Land Judging competitiors
Dr. Rex Ellis provides instructions to the competitors at Myakka Family Worship Center before the contest.


Chief Judge Rex Ellis, Ph.D., Environmental Scientist with the St Johns River Water Management District, and the Florida FFA Association officials reviewed the instructions and rules with the group. Competitors caravaned to the contest site. More information about the state contest can be found here http://landjudging.org/

After the contest, the Chief Judge reviewed results with the students at each of the four fields.



FFA High School Division

  • State Champions-Parrish Community High School team (Kaycee Kirby, Makayla Chenard, George Chenard, and John Keen). Kaycee Kirby had the highest individual score overall in the state. Advisor Susan Grainger.

    FFA High School State Champion Land Judging Team
    State Champion-Parrish Community High School-L to R Makayla Chenard, John Keen, George Chenard, and Kaycee Kirby.
  • 2nd place- Lafayette High School (Madison King, Jack Peterson, Harrison Jackson, and Caden Boatright). Advisor Tori Lyons.
  • 3rd place- George Jenkins High School (Josslyn Cruz, Haylee Gawtrey, Mitchell Lynn, and Catherine Tilton). Advisor Kyle Carlton.

FFA Middle School Division

  • State Champions-SunRidge Middle School (Ashley Stover, Luke Poeppelman, Cassidy Duitsman, and Mia Gorson). Advisor Savannah Hardman
  • 2nd place-Buffalo Creek Middle School (Adrianna Frisse, Cody Rhoades, Marlee Schaal, and Savanna Schue). Cody Rhoades scored the second highest in the state. Advisor Steven Harber.
    FFA Middle School Division State Land Judging Second Place Team
    Second Place FFA Middle School Division- Buffalo Creek Middle School-L to R Marlee Schaal, Savanna Shue, Adrianna Frisse, and Cody Rhoades.


  • 3rd place- Okeechobee Yearling FFA team (Grady Starr, Kinsley Vinson, Levi Maggard, and Jace Maynor). Advisor Megan Williamson.

4-H Senior Division

State Champions-Manatee County Senior 4-H team (Holly Bergmann, Sydney Bliss, Micah Foy, and Jake Pritchett). Holly Bergmann had the highest individual score in the 4-H Senior division. Amy and Tom Arrant coached all 4-H teams.

4-H Senior Division State Land Judging State Champion Team
State Champion-Manatee County 4-H Senior Team L-R Micah Foy, Holly Bergmann, Sydney Bliss, and Jake Pritchett

4-H Intermediate Division

State Champions -Manatee County Intermediate 4-H team (Emma Hakes, Cole Arrant, and Clayton Reagan). Emma Hakes had the highest individual score in the 4-H Intermediate division.

4-H Intermediate Division State Land Judging Team
State Champion-Manatee County 4-H Intermediate team. L to R – Cole Arrant, Emma Hakes, and Clayton Reagan.

4-H Junior Division

State Champions-Manatee County Junior team (Lillian Reagan, Amanda Hakes, and Barrett Woodham).  Amanda Hakes had the highest individual score in the 4-H Junior division.

State Champion Land Judging 4-H Junior Team
State Champion-Manatee County 4-H Junior Team L-R – Front Row-Lillian Reagan, Amanda Hakes, Back Row- Barrett Woodham.

National Contest

Top teams are eligible to attend the upcoming National Land and Range Judging contest April 30-May 2 in El Reno, Oklahoma. For more information about the national contest visit https://www.okconservation.org/nationallandrangejudging


Many organizations, agencies, and volunteers came together to make the contest a success, among them the Florida FFA Association, UF/IFAS Manatee County Agriculture and Extension Services Division/Manatee County Government, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Manatee County FFA and 4-H Alumni groups, Florida 4-H, Myakka Family Worship Center, Florida Association of Environmental Soil Scientists, and Association of Florida Conservation Districts.  Thanks to Dr. Ellis and the Florida FFA Association for arranging and coordinating the contest, and the MRSWCD for hosting. The Okeechobee SWCD and the Mosaic Company provided sponsorship for the contest to the host.  Appreciation to Christina (Shelly) Dakin d.b.a. Farren Dakin Dairy LLC and Boyz Ag LLC for allowing the contest to be held on their land. Laurie Dupuy, with Boyz Ag LLC, was very helpful in many of the contest set up details on the property. Garrett Dakin, nephew of Shelly Dakin and member of Boyz Ag LLC, coordinated the onsite contest plans with USDA-NRCS and Dr. Ellis.





Posted: April 12, 2024

Category: 4-H & Youth
Tags: 4-H, Volunteers

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