By: Beth Ann Luedeker
The Texas A&M University Soil Judging team came out on top at the Region 4 competition in San Marcos last month, and earned a spot in the national competition to be held at the University of Tennessee at Martin next March.
Three members of the team finished among the top ten individuals at the contest.
Leading the way for the Aggies was Nicole Shigley, a junior Plant and Environmental Soil Science (PSSC). Nicole was the high point individual for the contest.
Cooper Stence, a junior in Agriculture Systems Management placed 5th high, followed by Kenny Le, a senior Spacial Science major.
Seniors Frank Linam, PSSC, and Lauren Gayre, Bioenvironmental Science, rounded out the Aggies championship team.
“I wanted to be on the soils team ever since they hosted the area Land Evaluation contest for FFA my senior year in high school,” said Shigley, who has been on the team for three semesters. “I think walking into a pit and seeing something you have never seen before is the best part!”
To her, the most challenging part is travelling to a new state and learning the parent material and geology there.
“I got involved in soil judging after taking Dr. Morgan’s class and working in her lab,” said Linam, who will be pursuing higher degrees in soil chemistry after graduation. “It has allowed me to see many more soil pits than I had before.”
To Linam, the most challenging aspect of the contest is the time constraints.
“Since it is timed, you have to come to a decision very quickly and move on to other parts of the contest,” he said.
The team is coached by Sarah Vaughn, a graduate student working on her Master of Science in soil science and Dr. Cristine Morgan, a soil science professor in the soil and crop sciences department at TAMU.
Region 4 includes colleges and universities from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. About 40 individuals comprising seven teams competed. The top three teams have the opportunity to compete in the national contest.
The contest includes identification, evaluation, classification and description of soils, homesite evaluation, and more.
At the National Collegiate Soil Judging contest, the two judging events occur over two days. On the first day, the students compete as individuals and will have three pits/sites to evaluate. On the second day they evaluate two sites and are judged as a team.