Students from the Murray State University Hutson School of Agriculture received recognition at the 2016 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Student Judging Conference hosted by the University of Minnesota Crookston.
The annual judging conference was held April 14-16 and saw participation from 575 college students representing 23 four-year schools and 15 two-year schools from across the United States. Sixteen agriculture and natural resources contests were held at the conference. Contests included horse judging, agribusiness, landscape design, dairy judging, knowledge bowl, general livestock, wildlife management, agricultural sales and marketing, soils, mechanized agriculture, crops, hippology, small animals, agricultural computers, horticulture and livestock management.
Murray State University Agribusiness Club students participated in three contests at the conference: agribusiness, ag sales and marketing, and the knowledge bowl. The teams were recognized at the banquet on Saturday, April 16. Murray State students placed as the second highest team overall in the Agribusiness competition and third highest team in the senior college division’s Ag Sales and Marketing competition. Murray State also received fourth place in the senior division of the Agriculture Knowledge Bowl.
The Agribusiness contest consists of a two-part exam that evaluates competitor’s grasp of concepts such as agribusiness management, agricultural economics, agricultural finance, agricultural policy and law, and commodity marketing.  Members of the Agribusiness team included Benjamin Hornback of Slaughters, Ky; Rebecca Gragas, of Santa Clarita, Calif.; Matthew Rehmer of Lenzburg, Ill.; and Kyle Schenck of Boston, Ky.
The Ag Sales and Marketing team was composed of three members; Shelby Fuhr of Columbia, Ill.; Rebecca Gragas, of Santa Clarita, Calif.; and Kyle Schenck of Boston, Ky. This contest requires team members to compete individually in one of the three areas of agricultural sales. These areas include agricultural equipment, agricultural input products, and agricultural service. The ag sales and marketing contest consists of a fifty-question general knowledge exam and a forty-five minute practical application of their area of sales in which they attempt to complete the sale of their product.
In addition to competing in the judging contest, students were able to meet with management of SunOpta Sunflower to tour their vertically integrated processing facility, and visit with representatives of other local agribusinesses including CHS Ag Services, Valley Plains Equipment, and Ag Country FCS. Students explored the area’s natural resources with a visit to Itasca State Park and the Mississippi River Headwaters.
Along with the Murray State University Agribusiness Club, sponsors of the team include CHS Foundation, Plowin Nine, Inc. (Ill.), Farm Credit Illinois, Nelson County (Ky.) Farm Bureau, Bockhorn Ag, Inc. (Ill.), Lehr’s Market Inc. (Ill.), Mr. Richard Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Voelkel, Mr. Steven K. Stults, and Ms. Min Johnson.
For more information about Murray State’s participation in the 2016 NACTA Judging Conference, please contact Dr. Michelle Santiago at msantiago1@murraystate.edu.