JAY — Future Farmers of America students at Jay High School are making history as they continue their quest to become national champions in the 4-H, FFA Land Judging Contest.

For the first time in Jay's Middle and High School FFA programs, the schools have won county and state titles. The Jay High School team will travel to Oklahoma City from April 30-May 2 to compete against teams from 30 states for the national title. The middle school competition culminates at the state level.

"We have a pretty high expectation of winning nationals," Ally Ashworth said. She and her twin brother Austin are veterans of the contest, having competed for the past five years.

The Florida Land Judging website describes the competition involves middle and high school students judging the soil quality in order to determine the best use for the land.

The students evaluate the soil for three categories: land, range and home-site evaluation.

"We look for any factor that would limit the land," Ashworth said.

In practical use, land judging is done to determine the state and quality of the soil, according to team member Logan Codey.

"We determine what nutrients the land needs to grow whatever crop you're growing," he said.

The Jay team listed seven different items they judge for in the soil samples.

Texture of the surface soil
Sub-soil texture
Depth of the soil
The slope of the land
Soil erosion
Soil permeability
Surface run-off.

The four-member team can only use a pocket knife, a clip board, one piece of paper and a small amount of water to perform the evaluations. All team members have to memorize all the charts, tables and formulas associated with the evaluation.

Austin Ashworth and his teammates are using the competition to increase their chances of receiving scholarships.

Jay High School FFA sponsor Kaylen Findley said these students are the ones that will become our farmers and conservationists of the future.