Oklahoma Higher Education Campus E-Clips sponsored by the Communicators Council

May 2015

OPSU Crops Team Places Second in Nation

The Oklahoma Panhandle State University Crops Judging Team placed second in the nation at the National Crops Judging Contest held in Moline, Ill. during the 2015 NACTA (North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture) Judging Conference April 8-10.

The crop judging competition is an intensive examination of students’ agronomic skills and knowledge designed around the Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) program of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). The four-part contest is made up of a math test, general knowledge test, plant and seed identification, and lab practical.

OPSU crops judging coach and agronomy department head, Dr. Curtis Bensch, states of the contest, “It is one of the best measures of an all-around professional agronomist.”

NACTA’s first president Ewart B. Knight commented, “It is our responsibility as educators to prepare our students for the kind of life they will enter upon graduation - big, rough, demanding and fast-moving.”

With strong finishes at regional contests throughout the spring, Bensch looked for the team to be right in the mix at the national competition with traditional powerhouses Iowa State and Kansas State.

“To finish second in the nation behind Iowa State University and prevail against much larger universities is a significant accomplishment for these OPSU students,” Bensch said.

Willem Pretorius, a junior at OPSU and member of the nationally ranked team said, “We worked very hard and stayed focused. This is the highest placing the OPSU crops judging team has ever achieved. We were very proud to represent our school and look forward to putting all we have learned to work in our future as agronomy professionals.”

Fifteen universities participated in the contest - eight of them “land grant” universities. Craig Bohl, an OPSU agronomy major from Ulysses, Kan., powered the team to the second-place finish. Bohl finished sixth overall as an individual with other team members Ryan Bryant of Goodwell, Willem Pretorius of Hugoton, Kan., and Kelby Ross of Meade, Kan., followed close behind. Bryant was eighth high overall individual, Pretorius was 10th and Ross placed 14th. Bohl also earned individual honors placing third in the general knowledge exam, fourth in the lab practical, and fifth in plant and seed identification. Jacob Murphy of Texhoma, Okla., and Preston Ungles of Satanta, Kan., also represented OPSU with strong individual performances.

Ross, a junior at OPSU, commented on the team’s impressive performance, “Dr. Bensch is a major part of our success in crops judging. He puts in a lot of time and effort to make sure we are fully prepared going into the competition and is always willing to spend extra time outside of class with us. Crops judging is a great way to shape someone into a well-rounded agronomist.”

Throughout the trip, the team enjoyed sightseeing with highlights including a tour of the John Deere corporate headquarters in Moline as well as the factory where John Deere combines are built. Students also enjoyed watching as barges bearing agricultural commodities came through the lock system on the Mississippi River.

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