The Barbour County 4-H Soils Judging team members recently returned from an 11-day trip to Oklahoma City where they won first place in the two possible national 4-H championships.
They are the outright National 4-H Land Judging Champions and the National 4-H Homesite Judging Champions for 2012.
The Barbour County 4-Hers scored 801 points out of a possible 900 points to defeat a very good team from North Miami, Ind., by a single point. They tied with Spinks County, S.D., for the homesite judging co-championship by scoring 1,097 points out of a possible 1,164 points and won the tie-breaker to be named homesite judging champions.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
The Barbour County Board of Education recognizes the Barbour 4-H Team at the May 21 board meeting for the team’s National Land Judging Championship and National Homesite Judging Championship. In the back row are Superintendent Joseph F. Super, Board of Education Vice President Robert Wilkins, Board President David Strait and board members Joanne McConnell, Michael Talbott and Doward Matlick, 4-H member Ben Hart and 4-H Agent Kevin Shafer. In the front are Taylor Talbott, Tyler Baldwin, Jacob Yocum and 4-H Coach and retired agent Roger Nestor.
Barbour County team members are Ben Hart, Jacob Yocum, Tyler Baldwin and Taylor Talbott. The team is coached by Roger Nestor, retired WVU Extension agent in Barbour County. Nestor was assisted by new Extension Agent Kevin Shaffer, and 4-H volunteers Katie Payne and Reta Nestor.
"Both of these national contests are extremely competitive and that generally, one point is one place," Roger Nestor said. "This team was dedicated to about 400 hours of training required to achieve their national honors.
"Everyone made some personal sacrifices and had extraordinary attitudes to become mentally tough enough to meet the challenges of national competition. This is a lot of pressure for high school age youths. These kids accepted the challenge and performed extremely well."
Furthermore, this team kept Barbour County 4-H on the national championship list with a double championship again. This is the fourth time that Barbour County has earned both the national titles. The 2009 Barbour County team put Barbour County back on the national list when it won both championships.
Prior to 2005, Barbour County had won a record three national championships in a row. Barbour County is the only county 4-H program in the nation to win back-to-back national land and homesite judging championships in the 61-year history of the contest. The Barbour County 4-H program has now won seven of the last 10 national homesite judging championships and six national land judging championships.
Nestor said, "It is good to bring another national championship back to West Virginia but more importantly it is good to see how well our youths respond when given some time, strategic training and an opportunity."
Ben Hart earned first-place individual honors in both contests with 291 points out of a possible 300 points in land judging and 377 points out of a possible 388 points in the homesite judging. Along with Hart's top individual scores, his teammates also did very well. Jacob Yocum was 11th with 262 points; Tyler Baldwin was 16th with 248 points; and Taylor Talbott was 47th with 177 points. In homesite judging, Taylor Talbott was seventh with 366 points; Jacob Yocum was 13th with 354 points; and Tyler Baldwin was 14th with 352 points.
"To have all four team members in the top 47 in the nation in 4-H land judging and the top 14 in homesite judging is a great accomplishment," Nestor said.
He said the team's 400 hours of practice time paid off.
"Championships are earned, and indeed this team is very deserving for all their work and how well they represented Barbour County and West Virginia. The team battled through all types of weather since their West Virginia state championship run last summer during practices. This team is very deserving of every honor possible for their national championship."
Nestor also expressed appreciation to family, parents, 4-H leaders and everyone who helped make the opportunity possible by providing farms for practice sites, money for the expenses, and time to take care of the things that needed done while the team practiced and was away in competition.