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K-State Crops Judging Team wins NACTA contest

Members of the K-State Crops Judging Team included: (left to right): Leah Parsons, Luke Ryan, Jayden Meyer, Kaylin Fink, Nate Dick, Wes Jennings | Download this photo.

K-State team wins national crops and precision agriculture contests at NACTA event

Spring competition season ends on a familiar high note for K-State team

April 30, 2019

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State University Crops Team earned top awards at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Judging Conference held recently at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. Six students participated in three events, placing first in  both the crops contest and precision agriculture contest, and second in the knowledge bowl.

In the NACTA crops contest, the K-State team placed first over Iowa State University, with the University of Nebraska taking third place. A total of 25 crops teams competed, 15 in the four-year division and 10 in the two-year division. This was the 13th win in the past 21 years for K-State at the national NACTA crops contest, but their first since 2014.

Individually, Nate Dick, junior in agronomy from Inman, took first place overall, and Kaylin Fink, senior in agronomy from Chapman, placed third. Jayden Meyer, agricultural economics major from Smith Center, placed eighth and Luke Ryan, sophomore in agronomy from Solomon, placed tenth. Alternates were agronomy majors Leah Parsons from Leavenworth and Wes Jennings from Abilene.

The crops contest consists of four divisions: laboratory practical, agronomic exam, math practical, and plant and seed identification. At the national contest, the team placed first in math and identification and second in exam and lab. Individually, Nate Dick was first in all four components. Other top five scores were Kaylin Fink who placed second in identification, third in exam and fifth in lab. Luke Ryan placed fourth in identification and Jayden Meyer was fifth in math.

In the precision agriculture event, the team placed first overall ahead of Illinois State University, with Panhandle State University coming in third. Sixteen competed, eight in the four-year division. Individually, each team member competed in one of four contest components. Jayden Meyer was first place in harvesting technology, Nate Dick placed first in planting technology, Luke Ryan finished second in UAVs/drones, and Wes Jennings was fourth in spraying technology.

In the Knowledge Bowl, the team went undefeated through the winner’s bracket, but dropped two matches to Iowa State University in the finals. Leah Parsons was team captain. Other team members were Jayden Meyer, Nate Dick, Kaylin Fink, and Luke Ryan.

The NACTA Judging Conference event ended the spring competition season for the K-State Crops Team. Earlier in the season, the team placed first at both the NACTA Regional Crops Contest in March hosted by the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, Nebraska, and the Southern Plains Invitational Crops Contest in February hosted by Hutchinson Community College. Additional students competing at Hutchinson were agronomy seniors Daphne Lofing from Osawatomie and Trent Haverkamp from Wamego.

Fifteen students were involved in practices to earn a spot on the K-State team this spring. Kevin Donnelly, professor of agronomy, served as coach for the team. Assistant coaches were agronomy graduate students Chris Weber, Marshall Hay, and Keren Duerksen.



At a glance

K-State crops judging team ended its season on a familiar high note, winning contests at the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) competition.


Department of Agronomy, Judging Teams


Kevin Donnelly

Written by

Kathy Gehl


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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the wellbeing of Kansans.
Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.