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Soil Judging Team places 15th at 2016 Nationals

Posted: August 4, 2016

The Penn State Soil Judging Team placed 15th in the nation at the National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest in Manhattan, KS. The contest was held the week of April 4th in the area around Manhattan.
L-R: Lalita Limpichart, Matt Rider, Phil Schoebel, Aryn Santrock, Jennifer Kellogg, Prince Oliver, Katie Speicher, Mark Younkins, Carli Cantenacci, Dr. Patrick Drohan

L-R: Lalita Limpichart, Matt Rider, Phil Schoebel, Aryn Santrock, Jennifer Kellogg, Prince Oliver, Katie Speicher, Mark Younkins, Carli Cantenacci, Dr. Patrick Drohan

Between April 2nd and 8th nine students from Penn State competed at the 2016 National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest hosted by Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS. The contest was held around Manhattan the vicinity on Mollisols derived from residual materials and sediments of the ancestral Kansas River floodplain.

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 regional, Fall competition qualify for the National event held the following Spring. This year, students at the National contest practiced describing soils formed in residual materials, Late Pleistocene loess deposits and Holocene terrace and floodplain deposits. Purdue Univ. took first, Univ. of Maryland 2md, and West Virginia Univ. third.

Penn State's team consisted of: Lalita Limpichart (ERM), Matt Rider (AgED), Phil Schoebel (ERM), Aryn Santrock (ERM), Jennifer Kellogg (ERM), Prince Oliver (ERM), Katie Speicher (ERM), Mark Younkins (ERM), Carli Cantenacci(ERM).

Penn State finished 15 overall as a team and last in Group judging .

Ninety one students competed in the contest’s individual component. Katie Speicher finished 20th in the country and Mark Younkin 27th. Coach Patrick Drohan, Associate Professor of Pedology, said “Mollisols were were a very new concept for the students. We had a shot going into the group judging portion but the students were thrown a tough set of new pits they had not seen and just couldn't fit the story together in time. However, the contest scores were very, very close this year." 

The team will attend Regionals in the Fall at Penn State (~Oct. 7th). 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/.