NEW MARKET — Gary Mosbaugh came to Southmont High School in 1978 to teach agriculture and was interested in developing FFA teams that took part in the various judging contests offered in the national youth agricultural organization.
It took 14 years for one of his crop judging teams to win a state championship in 1992. Southmont repeated the feat in 1999, and amazingly every year since. Once again a Mountie crop judging team took top honors at the state contest, stretching the winning streak to 25 consecutive years. The latest championship means Southmont has ruled the state in crop judging for a quarter of a century.
“It really is amazing,” Mosbaugh said. “I have been at Southmont for 36 years and the last 25 of them our kids have won state championships. The credit goes to the kids because they are so willing to put in the time and hard work. They do the judging, not me.”
Southmont recently sent three high school teams to compete in the state contest along with one junior high team. All four teams excelled. The first place high school team consisted of Caylee Leclercq, Emily Tricker, Natalee Brann and Kaitlyn Tricker. South’s high school team comprised of Drake Davis, Dani Alspaugh, Brayden Gilliland and Hunter Isenberg was runner-up. A third high school team, which included David Clark, Josie Beach, Cassidy Leclercq and Liz Link, finished sixth out of a 44 teams from throughout Indiana.
To make last week’s finishes even more impressive, the Southmont FFA high school members had six of the top 10 scores at the state contest. Caylie Leclercq placed first and Emily Tricker placed second. Brann finished in third place with Kaitlen Tricker finishing fifth. Davis placed sixth and Alspaugh landed in eighth place.
The Southmont junior high team did not want to be out-done by their senior teams. So, junior high students Holly Shaver, Bernice Crosby, Hannah Isenberg and Erin Williams won a state championship of their own the same day against 11 other Indiana teams.
Team members credit Mosbaugh’s guidance as the reason for their success. From using resources their teacher has collected through the years to the three-hour practice sessions which take place after school, students have bought into the program.
“When we sign up to be on a team, we all know there will the three-hour practice sessions and we will use all the crop samples Mr. Mosbaugh has collected from doing this for so long,” Brann said. “Mosbaugh brings so much experience that we can all appreciate and feed off of.”
The majority of the Southmont soil judging teams members have hopes of working in agricultural careers. Many plan on attending college and Mosbaugh has made sure his judging teams have opportunity to attend college by offering in-house scholarships for those finding success in FFA.
“We set up a scholarship fund several years ago and our kids know they have a chance to win scholarships for doing well at state contests,” Mosbaugh said.
Championship team members each receive $500 as does any individual placing first in the state. Junior high team members each receive $100 scholarships for placing first.
The money does not go unnoticed by the team members, but there is more to gain than just the scholarships.
“There are so many benefits from being on a team,” South FFA president Kaitlyn Tricker said. “It will prepare me for a job in agriculture someday and teaches me how to study. The opportunity for scholarship money is great. This all represents a lot of hard work with great reward.”
The teams, who won every competition they entered during the contest season, will now take time off until next school year. But in the meantime, don’t be surprised to hear Mosbaugh humming the New Kids on the Block 1989 hit “You Got It” as he strolls down the school hallways.