For the second year in a row, West Virginia high schoolers took first place in the National Land Judging and Home Site Evaluation Contest in Oklahoma City in early May.

The 4-H team from Barbour County scored its second first-place win in the land judging contest and placed first in home site evaluation. Monroe County 4-H took second-place honors in home site evaluation. FFA teams from Clay, Taylor and Taylor counties also competed in the contest that hosted 31 4-H and 100 FFA teams from around the country.

“This is the first time that a team has won back-to-back championships in 4-H Land Judging, and it is not often that West Virginia teams place first and second in the nation for a contest, but the 4-H teams did it this year,”said Jeff Skousen, West Virginia land judging coordinator, professor of soil science in the Division of Plant and Soil Sciences at West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences, and WVU Extension land reclamation specialist.

“The coaches and team members worked extremely hard to prepare for the contest. We represented West Virginia well, and I am proud of all of them.”

Roger Nestor, Barbour County’s WVU Extension agent, coached the Barbour County team; Brian Wickline coached the team from Monroe County.

Land judging is an educational program aimed primarily at junior and senior high school students. Students must be able to judge land and soil factors that may limit the use of site, such as erosion, surface runoff and slope. These factors must be determined without the aid of tools and equipment. Land judging grew out of the annual 4-H and FFA Soil Conservation schools in 1941 at the Red Plains Experiment Station in Guthrie, Okla., and the first contest was held in 1943.

About 4,500 junior high and high school students are taught land-judging principles each year in West Virginia. After competing in annual state events, state FFA and 4-H winners are sent to the national contest in Oklahoma each year. West Virginia 4-H and FFA teams have each captured 9 national championships since 1959.