Share

Penn State places 6th in U.S. National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest

Posted: May 3, 2013

The Penn State Soil Judging Team, from the College of Agricultural Sciences, recently placed 6th at the National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest in Platteville WI.
L-R: Melissa Pierce, Dr. Patrick Drohan, April Doroski, Mitch Fleming, Curtis Kennedy, Nancy Kammerer, Assistant Coach Cody Fink, Sara Jones, and reclined is Jacob Gogno.

L-R: Melissa Pierce, Dr. Patrick Drohan, April Doroski, Mitch Fleming, Curtis Kennedy, Nancy Kammerer, Assistant Coach Cody Fink, Sara Jones, and reclined is Jacob Gogno.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Soil Judging Team, from the College of Agricultural Sciences, recently placed 6th at the National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest in Platteville WI.

Penn State had seven students compete in the National contest, which was hosted Apr. 20 to 27 by the University of Wisconsin, Platteville. They finished six, with 2,630 points. The University of Maryland, coached by Penn State alumnus Dr. Brian Needelman, won the contest with 2,738 points.

Comprising the team were Melissa Pierce, a senior environmental resource management major from Mercersburg, Pa.; Nancy Kammerer, a sophomore agroecology major from Gettysburg, Pa.; Sara Jones, a senior environmental resource management major from Montrose, Pa.; April Doroski, a senior environmental resource management major from Wyncote, Pa.; Jacob Gogno, a senior environmental resource management major from Pottsville, Pa.; Mitch Fleming, a senior agricultural science major from Sharpsville, Pa.; and Curtis Kennedy, a senior environmental resource management major from State College, Pa.

In the individual component of the contest, Penn State's Doroski placed 7th,  Kammerer 14th, Jones 45th and Fleming 59th. Penn State finished 11th in the Group Judging component. Ninety students competed in the individual component and over 115 competed in Group Judging.

"The National contest allows students to practice describing and interpreting soils in an environment very different from their home school," said team adviser Patrick Drohan, assistant professor of pedology. "At the recent contest, students were directed to describe soils formed in a variety of parent materials in close proximity to the Mississippi River."

Penn State teams have participated in National and Regional competitions since the 1950s, Drohan noted. The contest is part of the Soil Science Society of America's commitment to soils education and provides participating students with an opportunity to see new soils and to test their skills against peers from across the country. Twenty-three teams competed this year. Representatives of South Korea and Australia also visited the contest in order to better understand its organization. There are plans to organize an International Contest at the 2014 World Soil Congress in Seoul, South Korea.

"The team performed extremely well, especially given the new environment they were not familiar with. This is especially significant since five of them are very new to soil science” Drohan said. “They will do very well when entering the profession or going on to graduate school."

Drohan said traveling to Wisconsin to take part in the national competition was outstanding, but costly. Those wishing to support the team in future years can contribute to the team's travel efforts here.  

More information about the team and the 50-plus-year history of soil judging at Penn State is available online here.