VALENTINE – Two hundred and ninety-seven high school students and teachers from 42 schools across Nebraska visited Cherry County this fall to test their knowledge of course management at the 66th Annual Course Rating Competition of the state of Nebraska.
The junior division consisted of 142 individuals and 38 teams, and Chadron’s Cody Kahl placed fourth. The senior division consisted of 127 individuals and 36 teams, and it was Luke Kahl’s turn to shine by placing second.
Each fall, students enrolled in agriculture or natural resources courses compete for top honors in range assessment competitions. Competitors compete as individuals and as teams in the junior or senior division. Six regional competitions are organized from mid-September to the end of September in addition to the state competition. The competitions are sponsored by the Nebraska Section Society for Range Management. Co-sponsors include Nebraska Extension, Natural Resources Districts (NRD) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Volunteers from these and other natural resource groups and agencies help local committees organize and run the competitions. Over the past 10 years, participation in regional competitions has averaged 1,100 students.
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Range assessment competitions test participants’ skills and knowledge in plant identification, ecological site identification and composition, range conservation and grazing management. While studying for course rating competitions, students learn about one of Nebraska’s major land uses. The courses cover almost 50% of Nebraska and about 60% of the United States. Even if these young contestants do not pursue a career in rangeland or natural resource management, they will gain an understanding of a major natural resource that they will remember throughout their lives.
Cody Burson of Burwell High School won first place in individual honors in the junior division. Adam Knapp, Ord, placed second; Bobbi Guggenmos, Wheeler Central, placed third. The members of the St. Paul junior team are Sam Wells, Abby Hirschman, Gracie Ackles and Sidney Gawrych. The members of Ord’s junior team in second place are Adam Knapp, Will Skibinski, Riley Ladwig and Ethan Wadas. Members of Sargent’s third-placed junior team are Melissa Slagle, Tallin Schauda, Sarah Riddle and Grant Ottun. Members of Stuart’s fourth-ranked junior team are Gracie Kaup, Addie Ketteler, Hunter Tubbs and Will Paxton.
Lucas Olson of West Holt High School won first place in individual honors in the senior division. Sadie Jarecke, West Holt, and Ryan Gabriel, Ord, placed third; and Garett Schneider, Sargent, placed fourth. West Holt senior team members are Lucas Olson, Sadie Jarecke, Isaac Pistulka and EmiLee Walnofer. The second-place Ord team members are Ryan Gabriel, Ryder Reineke, Ashton Key and Makayla Wray. The Burwell team in third place includes Cooper Philips, Ethan Joy, Devin Konicek and Hayes Jensen. Members of the fourth-ranked St. Paul’s senior team are Nick Busse, Kaleb Baker, Madison Hirschman and Ben Feeken.
Twenty-eight adults also entered the contest. Dennis Mottl, Ag-Ed instructor from Palmer High School, placed first in the adult competition. Additional information about the competition is available on the Nebraska section, SRM’s website, http://www.nesrm.org/RangeJudging.html.