The 2022 Area 4 Range Judging Contest took place Sept. 21 near Weissert in Custer County. Five hundred competitors from 21 schools in the Lower Loup and Central Platte NRDs took part. Most were students in grades 9-12. Thirteen adults also competed.

            Cooper Phillips of Burwell was the top individual in the Senior Division, followed by Melissa Slagle of Sargent in second place. The Senior Division is open to students in grades 11 and 12. Cale Buss of Burwell took first place in the Junior Division, followed closely by Emmett Sortum of Loup County taking second place. The Junior Division is made up of students in grades 9 and 10.

            Sargent and St. Paul tied for first place in the Senior Division team results, followed by Burwell, another St. Paul team, and Ord, to round out second, third, and fourth places, respectively. Burwell, St. Paul, Wheeler Central, and Loup County – in that order – took first through third places in the Junior Division team results, with St. Paul and Wheeler Central ending in a tie for second place.

            Mike Kozeal of Sargent took first place in the Adult Division, followed by Tanner Dunbar of Loup County, and Cale Harrington of Loup City, in second and third places, respectively.

In range judging, 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 must know the concepts of proper range use, wildlife habitat management, and how to manage rangeland resources.

            The 2022 Area 4 Range Judging Contest was hosted by the Lower Loup Natural Resources District with support from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, and Nebraska State Range Judging Committee.