ELKO, Nev. — Fifteen FFA chapters and 68 high school students from Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Washington participated in the Western National Rangeland Career Development event on Nov. 11-12 in Elko, Nevada. The students tested their knowledge of rangeland management at the competition.

Idaho teams and individuals received top honors. Team awards were Hagerman FFA, first place; Wells FFA, Nevada, second place; and Gooding FFA, third place.

Top individual awards were given to Logan Ballard of Wells, Nevada, first place and named “Top Hand”; Kinley Whitmarsh of Hagerman, second; Jacob Flick of Gooding, third; and Bryce Pose, fourth, and Ryan Nelson, fifth, both of Hagerman.

“This career event is designed to mimic standards commonly used in the rangeland management profession,” April Hulet, rangeland extension specialist at the University of Idaho, said in a statement. “Students get hands-on experience with skills and scenarios they may encounter later as working professionals.”

Students competed for awards by learning to identify 81 common rangeland plants, measuring vegetation attributes for livestock and wildlife habitat, calculating an appropriate stocking rate, considering grazing management options and estimating the cost of habitat improvements.

Several rangeland professionals joined students in the field to describe how the skills they have learned are put into practice.

The Western National Rangeland Education Association coordinated the event to raise awareness of career opportunities in rangeland conservation and management.

The event was presented by the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission, Idaho Section Society for Range Management, Public Lands Foundation, and rangeland degree programs from the University of Idaho, University of Nevada-Reno and Montana State University.

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