Soil Judging Team takes 7th at 2016 Regionals; misses qualifying for Nationals

Posted: July 27, 2017

The Penn State Soil Judging Team placed 7th at the Regional Collegiate Soil Judging Contest in central Pennsylvania. The contest was held the week of October 5th in the area around Pine Grove Mills.
L-R: Coach Nicole Kubiczki, Kylie Hint, Jennifer Kellogg, Stephen Dumm, Abigail Wenger, Matt Rider, Lauren Kaminsky, Tom Heron, Mark Younkins

L-R: Coach Nicole Kubiczki, Kylie Hint, Jennifer Kellogg, Stephen Dumm, Abigail Wenger, Matt Rider, Lauren Kaminsky, Tom Heron, Mark Younkins

Between October 5th and 7th eight students from Penn State competed at the 2016 Northeast Collegiate Soil Judging Contest hosted by Penn State University near Pine Grove Mills, PA. The contest was at the Penn State Stone Valley Forest Headquarters.

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 residual and colluvial parent materials. The competing schools were Delaware Valley College, Bloomsburg University, University of Maryland, University of Rhode Island, Richard Stockton of New Jersey, West Chester University, Wilmington College, and Penn State. Bloomsburg University took first, Univ. of Maryland second, Univ. Rhode Island third  and Delaware Valley College fourth. Penn State State was coached by retired Penn State Soil Judger Nicole Kubiczki (now employed by the USDA-NRCS). Dr. Drohan ran the contest.

Penn State's team consisted of: Stephen Dumm (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Tom Heron (BioRenewable Systems), Kylie Hint (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Lauren Kaminsky (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Jennifer Kellogg (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Matt Rider (Ag. & Ext. Educ.), Abigail Wenger (Env. Res. Mgmt.), Mark Younkins (Env. Res. Mgmt.).

Eighty-nine students competed in the contest’s individual component (the largest in the region's history and as large as a National contest). Penn State's Stephen Dumm finished 84th, Tom Heron 41st, Kylie Hint 28th, Lauren Kaminsky 60th, Jennifer Kellogg 17th, Matt Rider 34th, Abigail Wenger 67th, Mark Younkins 5th. Coach Nicole Kubiczki said “We had a lot of fun and practiced well. Given so many schools in the region are familiar with these soils it was a very tough contest". 

While the Team woun't attend Nationals in Northern Illinois, Dr. Drohan urged anyone interested in supporting the team to contribute to the squad's travel fund here:

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: and