James River’s state champion FFA Soils Team posed with Virginia FFA Association Vice President Claire Siebel and outgoing state FFA Secretary Mason Sowers. From left are Seibel, Ellie Holter, Andrew Newcomb, Jacob Fowler, Bailey Marshall and Sowers.

While most students in Botetourt County spent Election Day relaxing on their day off, five members of the James River High School FFA Chapter were up before the sun to travel north on I-81 to Strasburg for the 2018 Virginia FFA State Soils Evaluation Contest.

It proved to be a trip worth the early rise.

By sunset, the teams returned to Botetourt County with the state championship title after placing first in the senior level event.

Members of the senior soils team include Ellie Holter, Bailey Marshall, Jacob Fowler and Andrew Newcomb. Audrey Fleming represented the chapter as a junior competitor.

Individually, Ellie Holter placed first and was named the individual state champion.

Bailey Marshall placed seventh individually, Jacob Fowler placed eighth and Andrew Newcomb placed 16th.

These combined scores brought the James River FFA members to the top of the standings, earning them the Virginia FFA Soils Evaluation State Title for the first time in James River FFA’s history.

Holter, Marshall, Fowler and Newcomb qualified to participate in the National Land and Homesite Evaluation Contest next spring in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Additionally, Audrey Fleming placed fourth in the state in the junior event.

During the FFA soils event, participants visit four soil sites to identify topsoil and subsoil texture based upon USDA classification, topsoil thickness, and the slope of the area.

Members take this knowledge and use it to identify runoff and permeability rates, soil amendments needed, overall land classification, and percentage of soil loss due to erosion in the area.

Finally, participants examine the land and make homesite recommendations for the impact these factors will have on building a home foundation, trees and shrubs, waste lagoons, septic tanks and roadfill.

The FFA Soils evaluation event prepares students for future careers in the field of natural resources and conservation while giving students lifelong skills that they can use as a future homeowner.

The JRHS FFA Chapter offered special thank yous to David Fowler, Chip Lawrence and Matt Peyton for providing soil sites for the team to practice.

The communitly may follow James River FFA on social media to stay updated on this teams experience in Oklahoma in the spring as well as to see all that James River FFA is doing to grow leaders, build the community and strengthen agriculture.