West Virginia University agronomy graduate student Katey Buckland put it about as succinctly as possible: “You get to play in the mud. How is that not fun?”
She was talking about a competition that’s pretty much of a secret outside of its own fraternity: the National Collegiate Soils Judging Contest, which made its way to Morgantown last month.
A video of the visit, and why the soils competition is important for the rest of us, is available here.
WVU’s Soils Team has had a lot of success in the past decade in national soil judging competitions, winning a national championship in 2006, earning five top 10 finishes and four top five. This year, the team, from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, instead played host when the 2012 contest came to town.
The contest, which attracted more than 21 teams from colleges and universities across the country, is a fun way for students to learn practical skills about soil identification and assessment.
“The students are learning the practices of a professional soil scientist,” said Jim Thompson, an associate professor of soil science and coordinator of the contest. “They may not go on to be soil scientists, but we want to teach them the best practices used by soil scientists around the world.”
Besides, they get to play in the mud.
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