The Cleburne County 4-H Grassland Evaluation team was outstanding in their field taking top honors at the 2018 Mid-America Grassland Evaluation Contest held in Springfield, Missouri on June 6. The competition included a field of 18 FFA and 4-H teams from five states that included Arkansas, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri.

Cleburne County 4-H took first place 4-H team and first place high team overall champions, scoring 1070 points out of a possible 1200 points to edge out a West Virginia FFA team for top honors. The team was coached by Cleburne County staff chair, Michelle Mobley. Team member Luke Wilson was high 4-H individual and was 3rd overall high individual of the contest. Teammates Macenna Maciel placed 3rd high 4-H individual and Stephen Wilson placed 4th high 4-H individual. Spencer Beavers also competed on the Cleburne County team.

To qualify for the Mid-America Grassland Contest, each team had to place in the top five of the Arkansas Grassland Evaluation Contest. The students have to complete four sections in the contest including Grassland Condition, Wildlife, Soils, and Plant ID. For the Grassland Condition section, the students must assess forage type, current grazing conditions, determine fertilizer and weed control recommendations, calculate how much forage is needed in spring, summer, fall, and winter for an example herd, and make recommendations for improvement – all in 25 minutes. For the wildlife section, students must evaluate the field habitat value for quail and rabbits, make recommendations to improve the habitat, and answer questions on wildlife management. In the soils section students must locate the contest site on a soil map, determine the correct soil and interpret the soil description, and determine suitability of 10 forages for that site. In the plant ID section the students must correctly identify 25 pasture plants from a list of 85 possible species. Each plant’s life cycle has to be answered correctly to receive points for a correct plant ID.

Prior to the Mid-America Contest Cleburne County 4-Hers competed at the state contest. Cleburne County had fifteen junior and senior 4-Hers compete as teams and individuals. The senior team won first place and Luke Wilson won high individual and Stephen Wilson placed second.

Mobley told The Sun Times, “I am extremely proud of this team. The team set a goal to win overall national champion when we first started practicing. So a lot of hours of practicing and hard work followed. Winning overall champion is a huge honor and accomplishment when there are so many good teams competing.”