4-H students, teams fare well in national contest
WEST FARGO, N.D. -- Jarrett Lardy is at home on the range. So are his teammates and friendly competitors. Lardy, who just graduated from high school in West Fargo, N.D., was the national 4-H range judging individual champion at the recent Nationa...
WEST FARGO, N.D. - Jarrett Lardy is at home on the range. So are his teammates and friendly competitors.
Lardy, who just graduated from high school in West Fargo, N.D., was the national 4-H range judging individual champion at the recent National Land and Range Judging Contest in Oklahoma City, Okla.
The contest drew 161 teams from 34 states.
“I had a phenomenal time,” Lardy says. “It was a very enjoyable experience.”
Lardy was a member of the Traill-Cass County team, which was the 4-H reserve national champion range judging team. Other team members are Amy Anderson, Kyra Sedivec and Shelby Sedivec. The Sedivecs are the daughters of Kevin Sedivec, team coach and North Dakota State University range science professor and range program leader.
North Dakota’s Kidder-Oliver County team finished fourth in the national 4-H team competition. One its members, Monica Fitterer, finished fourth individually. Other team members are Michelle Fitterer and Rebecca Schmidt.
The Kidder-Oliver team was coached by Kevin Sedivec, Kidder County extension agent Penny Nester and Oliver County extension agent Rick Schmidt, father of Rebecca Schmidt.
“We all know each other,” Lardy says. “It’s a friendly competition.”
Lardy has strong ties to agriculture and land range judging. His brother, Jacob, now a range science student at NDSU, once competed in the national judging contest. His father, Greg, heads the NDSU animal sciences department and is a former NDSU beef cattle specialist.
According to organizers, the contest was created by three Oklahoma conservationists in 1942. They decided which soil qualities could be judged and developed scorecards to test skills. The concept caught on, and Oklahoma City has hosted the annual event since 1951.
The contest consisted of land, range and home site evaluation.
In judging land, contestants entered several 3- to 5-foot-deep pits to evaluate qualities of the soil and determine its potential for agricultural production.
In judging range, contestants visited rangeland sites to identify plant species, and determine the site’s value for cattle production and quail habitat.
In judging home site potential, contestants determined the value of a site for residential development.
The range-judging portion required contestants to identify 20 plants, some of which don’t grow on the North Dakota prairie. Fortunately for Lardy and the other North Dakota contestants, “We got there (Oklahoma) early and were able to practice the whole week leading up to the contest,” Lardy says. “Dr. Sedivec was very good at teaching us plants we hadn’t seen back home.”
Lardy, who will attend NDSU in the fall, will work for Sedivec as a range technician this summer.
To some Americans, especially urban residents, range science might seem unimportant, or at least less important than it once was. But Lardy says range science remains valuable, especially given growing concern about changing climate.
“How grasses and land interact with wildlife and livestock, how the combination of grasses influences how productive pastures are - range science is still important, maybe even more than it used to be,” he says.