Soil Judging Team captures second place at national competition
The Virginia Tech Soil Judging Team finished in second place in both team judging and overall score at the 2008 National Championships hosted by the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, R.I., on April 17 and 18.
This year, 21 teams from colleges and universities around the country participated in the event. These teams qualified at one of six regional events with more than 50 schools involved. Virginia Tech team members were:
- Hannah Clayton, senior environmental science major from Virginia Beach, Va.;
- Amy Gail Fannon, senior crop and soil environmental sciences major from Pennington Gap, Va.;
- Brent Foltz, senior crop and soil environmental sciences major from Draper, Va.;
- Nick Haus, graduate student in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences from Rice Lake, Wis.;
- W. Luke Joyce, senior crop and soil environmental sciences major from Fieldale, Va.;
- Joyce Kammersell, senior crop and soil environmental sciences major from Annandale, Va.;
- Joe Marshall, senior crop and soil environmental sciences major from Louisa, Va.; and
- Tim Woodward, senior double majoring in biochemistry and crop and soil environmental sciences from Madison, Va.
“The contest was very challenging and the soils very different than in Virginia,” said John Galbraith, team coach and associate professor of crop and soil environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Galbraith described the team’s success as an outstanding achievement considering that only one of the eight team members had previously seen glaciated terrain and soils like the ones throughout the contest area.
In four of the past five years, Virginia Tech has been one of the top five schools in the team-judging contest, and in each of the past five years, it has finished among the top five teams in overall score, more than any other school during that time. The other teams that scored in the top five for this year’s team-judging competition were California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Texas A&M, Kansas State, and the University of Maryland. Scoring alongside Virginia Tech for the top overall score were Kansas State, the University of Maryland, Purdue University, and the University of Maryland.
The overall scoring includes the team-judging contest and a contest between four individual judgers from each school. One of the Virginia Tech students, Marshall, ranked No. 5 in the individual competition out of 82 students.
“Soil judging teaches students to go to unfamiliar places, study the resources, investigate the soil, hydrology, and land use, and then describe the soil horizons and properties,” Galbraith said. “Student answers are compared to those of official judges who are experienced soil scientists. Soil judging teaches the students to perform as individuals and to work together to make group decisions under stressful and time-constrained conditions.”