They’re coming to dig up some dirt around Morgantown, and it’s a good thing.
Teams will have access to practice sites in the Morgantown area March 25-28. The individual judging contest is set for Thursday, March 29, with the group judging taking place Friday, March 30. Actual contest sites will not be revealed until the days of the events.
Collegiate soil judging provides training and practical experience for students interested in learning proper methods of soil and site evaluation used by professional soil scientists.
As a former member of the WVU Soils Team, Peg Reese, who is retired from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, understands the value of participating in soil judging.
“Many of the students are studying soil science, environmental science, agriculture or horticulture. The hands-on experience students receive helps them learn more and be more desirable as a potential employee,” she said. “It changed my life as it helped me get hired with NRCS and helped me do my job better in the early part of my career.”
Reese never forgot the positive experience and, as a way to help ensure other students had the same, helped create an endowment to support the team.
“As a way to pay it back, a few years ago I suggested to the West Virginia Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society that we create an endowment fund to support the WVU Soil Judging Team,” she said. “The fund is still small, but it is growing.”
She is also volunteering her time to help Jim Thompson, associate professor of soil science in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and team adviser, organize this year’s event.
According to Thompson, stories like Reese’s showcase the importance of academic teams like soil judging.
“Collegiate soil judging provides training and practical experience for students learning proper methods of soil and site evaluation used by professional soil scientists,” he said. “In addition to being a valuable learning experience, it also gives the students an opportunity to represent the University and compete as a Mountaineer.”
He also believes this is a great opportunity to demonstrate the unique soils and landscapes common to North Central West Virginia.
“Over the past six years, the students on the WVU Soils Team have been able to travel to California, Utah, Rhode Island, Missouri, Texas, and Oregon, where they have studied soils that are very different from what we see here in West Virginia,” Thompson said. “This year, it is an opportunity for us to show the visiting students our soils here in West Virginia which are new and different from those in their home states.”
According to the National Collegiate Soils Contest rules, as the contest host, the WVU Soils Team is not allowed to participate in either the regional or national contests this year.
Team members, however, will be on-hand to help with contest events and serve as student ambassadors for the University and Davis College.
CONTACT: Lindsay Willey; Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
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