The Monroe County 4-H Land Judging Team, continuing West Virginias winning legacy, achieved top honors at the recent 2005 National Land and Range Judging Contest in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Earning top scores in both land judging and homesite evaluation, the four members of the Monroe County team were named the 2005 Homesite Evaluation National Champions. After a tie breaker, the four were declared the 2005 Land Judging Reserve National Champions. Teams from 35 states competed in the annual event.

Team members are Alison Echols, Andrew Echols, Devon Dransfield and Jason Jackson, all of Union. Coaching the 4-H team was Brian Wickline, West Virginia University Extension agent in Monroe County. Wickline said he was proud of his team’s accomplishments more for their success than for his own.

“It’s more for the kids,”Wickline said.”I enjoy seeing them being successful. It’s a great motivator for them.”

Wickline added that it is important for a team to be consistent to be successful, and his Monroe County team had the consistency needed to win.

A 4 -H member can participate in the national contest only one time in his or her life. Since 1959, West Virginia 4-H teams have earned 11 national championships with 44 different 4-H members.

Land judging requires each team to evaluate the soil through different factors and determine its land class. The team then gives appropriate land treatment recommendations. Finally, the team is judged on each of these sections to determine its appropriate score.

Once the land judging is completed, team members are then able to develop a homesite plan, using their evaluation of the soils capabilities to support a home.

Scoring 1,092 out of a possible 1,164, the Monroe County team became the national champions in homesite evaluation.

In land judging, the team scored 749 out of a possible 900 points, tying with an Indiana team for first place. Monroe County was awarded the Reserve National Champions title after the tie breaker.

The top three individual scores from each team are compiled to make the team’s score. Jason Jackson’s individual land judging score of 266 and homesite judging score of 374 earned him the honor of high individual in both contests. Alison Echols, Andrew Echols and Devon Dransfield earned top 10 scores�€placing sixth, ninth and 10th, respectively.

The 4-H Youth Development program is organized and coordinated by the WVU Extension Service. With more than 56,000 young people participating, 4-H offers a variety of club and individual educational activities in every county in West Virginia.

The National Land and Range Judging Contest is sponsored by the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts in cooperation with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and conservation districts, state conservation associations and agriculture groups across the nation.