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Soil Judging Team takes 2nd at 2015 Regionals; Qualifies for Nationals in Kansas

Posted: October 21, 2015

Between October 13th and 16th twelve students from Penn State competed at the 2015 Northeast Regional Collegiate Judging Contest hosted by The Ohio State University at Wooster, OH.
Standing L-R: Tom Heron, Phil Schiebel, Prince Oliver, Jennifer Kellogg, Matt Rider, Lalita Limpichart, Mark Younkins, Nicole Kubiczki, Katie Speicher. Kneeling L-R: Matt Dilger and Bill Wall. Reclining: Aryn Santrock.

Standing L-R: Tom Heron, Phil Schiebel, Prince Oliver, Jennifer Kellogg, Matt Rider, Lalita Limpichart, Mark Younkins, Nicole Kubiczki, Katie Speicher. Kneeling L-R: Matt Dilger and Bill Wall. Reclining: Aryn Santrock.

Between October 13th and 16th twelve students from Penn State competed at the 2015 Northeast Collegiate Soil Judging Contest hosted by The Ohio State University near Wooster, OH. The contest was at the famous Malabar Farm.

The contest is an annual event, which allows students to practice describing and interpreting soils and landscapes against different schools from around the country. The top schools from each region compete at a Fall regional competition in order to qualify for the National event held the following Spring. This year, students practiced describing soils formed in a variety of glacial parent materials. The competing schools were Delaware Valley College, Bloomsburg University, University of Maryland, University of Rhode Island, Richard Stockton of New Jersey, Wilmington College, and Penn State. The University of Maryland took first (teams placed both 1st and 2nd), Penn State second (team placed third), Ohio State third (team placed fourth) and Delaware Valley College fourth (team placed fourth). Ohio State was co-coached by retired Penn State Soil Judger Kaitlyn Benson (now a graduate student at OSU).

Penn State's team consisted of: Matt Dilger (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Thom Heron (BioRenewable Systems), Jennifer Kellogg (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Nicole Kubiczki (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Lalita Limpichart (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Prince Oliver (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Matt Rider (Ag. & Ext. Educ.), Phil Schiebel (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Aryn Santrock (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Katie Speicher (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Bill Wall (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Mark Younkins (Env. Res. Mgmt.).

For the second year in a row, Penn State finished 2nd overall as a team and 4th in Group judging.

Sixty-two students competed in the contest’s individual component. Penn State's Katie Speicher finished 10th, Matt Dilger was 19th, Nicole Kubiczki was 20th, Phil Schiebel was 26th, Matt Rider was 28th, Mark Younkins was 37th, Prince Oliver 47th, Aryn Santrock was 48th, Jennifer Kellogg was 56th, Tom Heron was 58th, and Lalita Limpichart was 59th. Coach Patrick Drohan, Associate Professor of Pedology, said “We had a good mix of some returners with experience and a lot of new people to help build for the future. We only had two days of practice this year too, which made it harder especially for the new people to pick up on the glacial soil concepts. Regardless, we did very well and the students are really excited to be going to Kansas in the Spring for Nationals." 

The team will attend Nationals in the Spring at the University of Kansas in Manhattan (the week of April 3rd). Traveling to contests is a great experience for the students, but costly, Drohan pointed out. He urged anyone interested in supporting the team to contribute to the squad's travel fund here: http://soiljudging.psu.edu/

Penn State teams have participated in national and regional soil-judging 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 region.

For more information about the team, and the 60 year+ history of Soil Judging at Penn State, see: http://soiljudging.psu.edu/ and https://www.facebook.com/psusoiljudging