University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) agriculture and natural resources students participated in the 2024 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference in mid-April in Twin Falls, Idaho, and brought home the sweepstakes trophy for a second year in a row. UMC also received first-place wins as a team in agriculture education and natural resources contests; second place wins as a team in agriculture business, equine management, and dairy judging, and third-place wins as a team in livestock management and livestock judging.

Individual placements include a first-place win in natural resources by Courtney Vatnsdal, plus second-place wins in agriculture education (Vatnsdal) and natural resources by Annette Drayna.

NACTA advisor Theresa Helgeson, who is also an instructor and lab services coordinator on campus, and chaperone Marina Wiley, accompanied the 20 students to Idaho. Students who competed in the 2024 conference included NACTA co-chairs Lindsey Espeseth, Sierra Heinz, and Jenna Kruger, plus Amber Cymbaluk, Annette Drayna, Eliza Freund, Melissa Hammer, Katherine Hansen, Katherine Hills, Victoria Johnson, Lily Krona, Katelyn Larson, Gracie Lunsetter, Katelyn Mack, Elizabeth Reich, Kaitlyn Rux, Evan Singsank, Courtney Vatnsdal, Christopher Veres, and Kloe Wadd.

“We took home the Sweepstakes Award for the second year in a row!” exclaimed Espeseth, a senior from Erskine. who is majoring in animal science. “Thank you so much to faculty, staff, and community members for all of the support that allowed us to compete and represent the University of Minnesota Crookston.”

UMC has been competing in NACTA, a judging conference open to all two-year and four-year schools that have an institutional membership, since the 1980s and have raised funds each year to attend. Their annual car washes are popular with faculty, staff, and the community, which allows students to make the trip that includes sightseeing. In 2024, students and chaperones were able to visit Sawtooth National Forest, watch people base-jumping, explore hot springs, and visit Shoshone Falls.