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Learning to test the land
Liberty County 4-Hers learn how to take and test soil samples
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Kasey Bozeman, 4-H county extension agent, reviews the different layers of soil with 4-H students Monday afternoon at the Liberty County Historic Courthouse. - photo by Tiffany King

Making mud pies can be an educational experience.

Liberty County 4-H students got their hands dirty learning how to test top soil samples during practice for land judging, one of 4-H’s competitive events.

The messy activity took place Monday afternoon on the side of the Liberty County Historic Courthouse.

“Youth are going to learn comparison, evaluation skills and reasoning skills that will of course benefit them later on in life,” Kasey Bozeman, 4-H county extension agent, said. “Land judging is about soil and land use.”

In the competition there are three primary ways to use land: crops, pasture and forest. Students will have a scenario about available land, evaluate top soil texture, thickness, permeability and drainage. They will then make a recommendation on how to best use the land.

“They do, then they apply,” Bozeman said.

Outside, 4-H students gathered around a table and grabbed handfuls of dirt samples to analyze the texture, look and sound.

“Different soil particle sizes are going to feel differently because of the size,” Bozeman said, “so a larger size particle like sand is going to feel gritty whereas clay is going to feel smooth and sticky.”

Samples included red clay, loam and sand.

Dallas Spencer, fifth grade student at Frank Long Elementary School, said her soil sample felt like “fluffy, slime but with more grit.”

Then it was time for mud pies. Students had fun making mud pies and explaining why their mud pie was or not using terms describing the texture and other factors.

After cleaning up, students went inside and learned about soil profiles, mottle, drainage, point of change and more.

Students then played a game to review the lesson.

There will be land judging practice Aug 22 and Aug 23, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Historic Courthouse. The 4-H land judging contest is Aug 27 in Fort Valley, Georgia.

The purpose of 4-H is to help youth develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and other skills through hands-on learning programs.

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