Education

Education

Land Judging

Land judging contests provide high school students with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of soil structure and land evaluation in a competitive setting. The contests strengthens each participant’s ability to recognize the physical features of the soil, determine land capability for crop production, and evaluate management practices needed for proper stewardship. The land evaluation process provides a setting for students to investigate the soils in their region, the environment that surrounds them, and their effect on their daily lives.

Through land judging contests, students assimilate important information about the world they live in. Their understanding of the soil and its relationship to plants, water and air are improved. The students look at a number of factors in land judging, depth of soil, surface texture, permeability, slope, erosion, and organic matter. They also develop a knowledge of land treatment practices and where those practices can best be applied.

For more information, visit the NARD website.

Range Judging 

Range and pastures account for 52 percent of the land in the state of Nebraska. Range judging contests are an effective tool for teaching students about Nebraska’s rangelands and grasslands, and the benefits of good range management. Range judging contests are for everyone - youth, adults, beginners, professionals - whether from rural or urban areas. All that is required is a desire to learn more about rangeland and its management.

To perform well, contestants must be able to identify range plants by name and know their growth habits, livestock forage value, and other characteristics. An understanding of the range plant community, range condition, and range sites is also important. Contestants should know the concepts of proper range use, wildlife habitat management, and how to manage rangeland resources.

Contestants compete individually, in teams, or both. Teams are made up of three or four individuals. There are divisions for Junior Youth (freshmen and sophomores), Senior Youth (juniors and seniors), Adult, and Professional.

There are six Range Judging Areas in Nebraska. The Lower Loup and Central Platte NRDs make up Area 4 in the center of the state. The NRDs partner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and University of Nebraska-Extension to organize and hold the contests. The NRDs handle the contest organization and scoring and NRCS plans and operates the field portion of the contest. 

The State Range Judging Committee oversees range judging in the state. Members of the committee approve all rules and regulations and select the host counties for all contests. The committee meets on an annual basis, the evening before the state contest.

For more information, visit the NARD website.

Envirothon

Students in 9th through 12th grades are invited to participate in the Envirothon, a program designed to test their knowledge of the natural environment. Contest categories include subjects such as forestry, range, soils, wildlife, aquatics, current environmental issues, and one area of national interest.

Students compete in five-person teams at District Ag Contests held across the state. Students from the Lower Loup NRD compete in one of two District contests, either in Grand Island or Columbus. The winners of each of these regional contests are invited to compete at the Nebraska State Envirothon Contest. The eight teams scoring highest behind the winners at the regional contests are invited to compete at the state level as wildcards. The top team at the state competition is invited to represent Nebraska at the National Canon Envirothon Competition.

The Lower Loup Natural Resources District provides $100 for each team in the NRD qualifying for the State Envirothon to cover the contest registration fees.

For more information, visit the NARD website.

General Education

Education is a key component of the work of Natural Resources Districts. Sharing information with landowners and producers on topics ranging from water to erosion control to trees is an important aspect of the work of NRDs.

The Lower Loup NRD has information and education programs in place for its Groundwater Management Areas and its Wellhead Protection Program. These programs are designed to educate landowners and keep them informed of the latest program developments.

The NRD works with school districts to provide educational programs for students. NRD staff is available to make classroom presentations and to provide educational materials for students from elementary to high school age.

The Food, Land and People (FLP) curriculum is an option for teachers wishing to bring agricultural and environmental elements to their lesson planning. FLP provides resources and promote approaches to learning which help educators and students in grades K-12 understand the interrelationships between agriculture, the environment and people.

For more information on the Lower Loup Natural Resources District educational programs, contact NRD Information/Education Coordinator Larry Schultz.

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