National Horticulture Contest Participants include, from left, Josiah Ketelsen, St. Edward; Grace Cruise, Fremont; Erik Henry, Omaha; Sawyer Kappel, Clarkson; Jeffrey Lohse, Beatrice; Elizabeth Killinger, Extension Educator.

Jeffrey Lohse of Beatrice placed sixth individually and was a member of the Nebraska's 4-H Horticulture Team, which placed fourth in the National Junior Horticulture Association Convention in Lincoln.

Lohse has been a Gage County 4-H Independent member for eight years.

“I became interested in horticulture because of 4-H and my sister helped, too,” Lohse said. “Amy helped me plant some things and in the garden when I was younger.”

Beth Lohse, Jeffrey’s mom, said their families have always had vegetable gardens and said they eat, can and freeze the produce.

“Jeffrey studied materials on the website and also fresh specimens in the weeks between team practices,” Beth said. “He is just naturally interested and is usually researching different things like if fig trees grow in Nebraska?”

The team, coached by Elizabeth Killinger, Nebraska Extension Educator, consisted of:

-Josiah Ketelsen, St. Edward

-Grace Cruise, Fremont

-Sawyer Kappel, Clarkson

-Jeffrey Lohse, Beatrice

The competition included eight sets of judging, an 80 question test and identification of 100 horticultural specimens such as seeds, twigs, leaves, fruit, flowers and underground structures.

"I'm extremely proud," Killinger said. "They worked hard and it all paid off."

The team held practices on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campuses to prepare for the contest. The students brought plant specimens to examine and identify, and Killinger also collected some for the team.

“The judging which included four specimens of plants or plant parts was the hardest,” said Jeffrey. “We ranked the eight classes from best to worst.”

Jeffrey said he has decided what he wants to do for a career, but there are some possibilities involving horticulture.

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation also contributed to the team, helping to defray travel costs for the members.

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