West Virginia University Extension Service 4-H’ers from Barbour County recently dug deep to find themselves at the top of the rankings at the National Land, Range and Homesite Evaluation Contest held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Land judging and homesite evaluation programs educate youths about soil properties, management and suitability for homebuilding, proper land utilization and conservation, water and the environment. In West Virginia, these practices are often used when building homes or for farming and agricultural purposes.
Coached by Roger Nestor, retired Barbour County WVU Extension agent. The youths narrowly missed the 4-H national land judging championship at the May 5 event and placed second overall as a team. Additionally, they placed sixth overall in the nation in the homesite evaluation category.
The team was comprised of Emily Farnsworth, who individually finished fifth in land judging and sixth in homesite evaluation; Nathan Baldwin, who finished third individually in land judging; Ivy Ward and Josh Kaiser.
According to WVU Extension Service faculty, there is a history of West Virginia teams doing well at these competitions.
“Having coordinated the land judging program in West Virginia and participating in the National Contest for more than 30 years, I consider Roger Nestor one of the best coaches in the country,” said Jeffrey Skousen, WVU Extension Service land reclamation specialist. “He consistently takes a group of teenagers from Barbour County with only a little knowledge of soils and trains and prepares them to be national leaders. The number of awards these students have earned over the years is remarkable.”
Joshua Peplowski, the current Barbour County WVU Extension Service agent, echoed Skousen’s sentiment.
“The land judging program in Barbour County has become a tradition that youths look forward to being a part of – in fact the whole county rallies around the program,” he said. “Barbour County 4-H has one of the best records in the country with 16 national championship titles and eight reserve champion titles, and it stems from a knowledgeable coach, dedication and hard work.”
Peplowski added that the program is excellent for youth development, as participants gain experience in math and science while learning other valuable life skills such as teambuilding, responsibility and critical thinking. They also learn the importance of collaboration and working together to overcome challenges.
The competition was split into 4-H and FFA categories. West Virginia also did well in the FFA competition – the Clay County team was crowned national champion in the land judging category.
For more than a century, 4-H has focused on agricultural science, electricity, mechanics, entrepreneurship and natural sciences. Today, 4-H out-of-school opportunities also exist in subjects like rocketry, robotics, biofuels, renewable energy and computer science.
CONTACT: Zane Lacko, WVU Extension Service
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.