Annual Land and Range School draws 448 students

Four hundred forty-eight students from 22 schools participated in the Woonsocket Land and Range Judging School last Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Pony Hills west of town.
The school is held each year on the Martin and Marian Andersen farm near the Pony Hills Golf Course. In the past, the school has averaged 250-275 students, but this year its popularity saw a huge spike.
Despite the increase in numbers, many advisors still felt they were able to provide a quality educational event, according to Sanborn Central/Woonsocket FFA Advisor Shane Gross.
The event is split into two areas, land judging and range judging. At last week’s event, 285 students participated in land judging, while 135 took part in the range portion.
In land judging, students learned how to identify soil texture and structure and current topsoil thickness, along with how to estimate the slope. The goal is to decide land capability class 1-7 to determine the best suited usage of the site. A new homesite portion of the event also challenges students to evaluate the site for suitability in establishing a home.
Students learned to identify range plants and evaluate sites for rangeland quality. The range plant ID contest consisted of 122 plants, each with its own characteristics of lifespan, growth season, origin and desirability for food and cover. Students also judged the composition of grasses in the sample site to determine its quality and decide if management is necessary.
This was the first event of the land and range judging season. Next Wednesday, the SCW FFA will travel to Wolsey-Wessington’s school, where they will participate in a mock contest. On Sept. 28, the Central Region Land and Range Contest will be held in Wessington Springs.
Skeeter’s Lounge of Woonsocket caters the event each year, serving roast beef and all the trimmings, which is speculated to be a little extra draw for students to choose to attend the Woonsocket judging school.

THE 448 students from 22 schools across the state pose for a photo with Martin and Marian Andersen, owners of the site of Woonsocket’s Land and Range Judging School. The school usually draws a little more than half the numbers it did this year. The students judge throughout the morning and then are fed a meal at the site, catered by Skeeter’s Lounge, Woonsocket.

THE 448 students from 22 schools across the state pose for a photo with Martin and Marian Andersen, owners of the site of Woonsocket’s Land and Range Judging School. The school usually draws a little more than half the numbers it did this year. The students judge throughout the morning and then are fed a meal at the site, catered by Skeeter’s Lounge, Woonsocket.

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