For the first time in three years, Mrs. Brunton and the FFA soil judging team will be making their way down to Oklahoma City for the National Land Judging Contest. That contest will take place May 4-6, 2022.
Soil judging has always been a huge part of the Potosi FFA program. From the time that Mr. Uppena restarted the Potosi FFA again in 1999, soils has been a staple of the judging teams. Mr. Uppena had nine different teams compete at the National contest during his time as the FFA Advisor, and Mrs. Brunton is continuing to train successful teams. Being known for having successful teams has helped to get students interested in the contest, which is very different from other judging contests that FFA offers. “Soil judging is one of those things that not a lot of people do - there is a lot of memorization and you do get pretty dirty, but it doesn’t hurt that you get out of a day of school for the contests,” says Logan Uppena.
The last two years’ competitions were cancelled because of the pandemic. Over the last few months the team has been re-learning how to soil judge. “None of us really remembered much of anything at the beginning of the year,” Logan Uppena explained. “Mrs. Brunton had us come in over the summer and during study hall the first 3 weeks of school to help us relearn everything lost in the last two years by not judging.”
Whether they were prepared or not, Potosi hosted the first contest of the season on August 16th. To the team's surprise, the senior team placed first and the junior team placed third. Levi Groom won the individual contest and Sydney Recker placed second. “I wasn't sure they were going to be prepared enough for that contest, but was surprised when they won,” They competed against another team who had been to contests before and two teams who had never judged before. I didn’t want them to get too excited though, because the scores were low and we would need to score much better to continue to be competitive against some of the other teams we knew we’d be seeing later in the season.” stated Mrs. Brunton
In their next contest at Monroe on September 8th, the senior team took first place again, with three individuals placing in the top 10; Sydney Recker placed first, Levi Groom was second and Aspen Walsh placed fifth. It was a very challenging contest, where the teams saw many things they had not seen before since the contest was held near the line where the glacier ended in Southwest Wisconsin. Levi explained the team's wins: “After the first contests and practicing almost everyday, everything we learned in the past came back to us, and it started to click in our heads pretty well. The Monroe contest was hard because we saw a lot of weird stuff in the soil we were judging and they placed the pits in some very challenging areas”
The team then went on to compete at the state competition at SWTC on September 15th. Once again the senior team had another three members place in the top ten. The individuals that placed at state included Natalie Edge in 5th, Aspen Walsh in 8th and Logan Uppena in 9th. “The team really came together at a very hard state contest and were able to place very well to qualify for Nationals and beat out some very well trained teams”, said Mrs. Brunton. “The team saw some soil horizons at that contest that are normally not found in Southwest Wisconsin, like pure sand, which threw them for a loop. But, with the things that we practiced in class, they were able to work around those challenges.” exclaimed Mrs. Brunton. The team finished high enough to earn themselves a trip to Oklahoma City for the National Land Judging Contest. Each state can register five teams to compete, so it's a pretty impressive accomplishment.
The team has one more contest left at UW Platteville; the date is still to be determined. They are motivated to keep practicing and spending more time enhancing their skills for nationals. The national contest is quite a bit different than the contest held in Wisconsin. The members will need to learn an entirely different judging card and some different judging criteria to judge at Nationals. Students will really start looking at that information towards the beginning of the new year. One of their big goals is to be the top team from Wisconsin.