Posted: October 31, 2018

The Penn State Soil Judging Team placed 4th at the Regional Collegiate Soil Judging Contest in south-central Ohio. The contest was held the week of October 22nd in the area around Hillsboro and Wilmington.

L-R: Brandy Savani, Craig Zemetis, Samantha Zaner (kneeling), Anne McGraw, Nancy Bao, Caitlin Hodges, Nicole Rella, Gib Blew, Hannah Albright (kneeling)

L-R: Brandy Savani, Craig Zemetis, Samantha Zaner (kneeling), Anne McGraw, Nancy Bao, Caitlin Hodges, Nicole Rella, Gib Blew, Hannah Albright (kneeling)

Between October 24th and 27th eight students from Penn State competed at the 2018 Northeast Collegiate Soil Judging Contest hosted by Wilmington College near Wilmington, OH.

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 glacial parent materials. The competing schools were Delaware Valley College, Bloomsburg University, Stockton University, Ohio State, Wilmington College, Brooklyn College, University of Maryland, University of Rhode Island, and Penn State. University of Maryland took first (3556 pts), Univ. of Rhode Island second (3481 pts), Delaware Valley College third (3403 pts), Penn State fourth (3350 pts), Ohio State fifth (3136 pts), Wilmington College sixth (3092 pts), Stockton University seventh (2998), Brooklyn College eigth (2854), and Bloomsburg University 9th (2497 pts). Penn State State was coached by Dr. Drohan and graduate students Caitlin Hodges and Melissa Miller.

Penn State's team consisted of: Brandy Savani (Env. Res. Mgmt., from Pittsburgh, PA), Craig Zemetis (Env. Res. Mgmt., from Hummelstown, PA), Samantha Zaner (Env. Res. Mgmt., Quakertown, PA), Anne McGraw (Env. Res. Mgmt., from Warriors Mark, PA), Nancy Bao, (Env. Res. Mgmt., from Collegeville, PA), Gib Blew (Env. Res. Mgmt., from Cranberry, PA), Hannah Albright (Env. Res. Mgmt., from New Kensignton, PA), and Nicole Rella (Ag. Biol. Eng., from Montville, NJ).

Fifty students competed in the contest's individual component. Penn State's Brandy Savani finished 9th, Craig Zemetis 22nd, Samantha Zaner 51st, Anne McGraw 10th, Nancy Bao 8th, Gib Blew 28th, Hannah Albright 17th, and Nicole Rella 21st. Coach Patrick Drohan said "The conditions were very hard for all the students....cold temperatures, steady but light rain, winds....all the students worked so hard. I really have a lot of respect for how well they did given the weather. Sunny California will be a welcome change."

The team will attend Nationals in California at Cal Poly (in San Luis Obispo) the week of April 14-19th. Dr. Drohan urged anyone interested in supporting the team to contribute to the squad's travel fund here: Getting to California will be very costly.

Penn State teams have participated in national and regional soil-judging competitions since the 1960, 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