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University Farms Hosts Soil Science Judging Contest

October 03, 2013

${image-alt} Carbondale high school students participating in the soil judging competition. (Oct. 3, 2013) Photo provided by Michelle Buchheit.

Getting “dirty” was totally allowed and even encouraged at the Soil Science Judging Contest held at University Farms on Thursday, October 3, 2013.  Over 100 high school students from approximately 13 schools visited the farms to take part in the FFA sponsored Land Use CDE event.   The visual and “hands-on” competition had students walking into large soil pits to evaluate such things as soil composition, soil type and land slope.  Jeff Robison, Agriculture Teacher at Goreville, worked with SIU faculty to administer the judging and process the scoring.  At the end of the day, Dr. Rachel Cook, soil scientist, stated it was great to see such interest in soils by the high school students.  “I hope programs like this inspire students to come to SIU and continue to study soils,” Cook stated. 

Goreville High School took first place team honors in the competition, followed by Crab Orchard at 2nd; Anna-Jonesboro at 3rd; Marion at 4th; and Johnston City at 5th.  Individual honors went to Dallas Melot (Goreville)-1st, Caleb Miles (Goreville)-2nd, Robynn Foster (Goreville)-3rd, Ethan Childers (Goreville)-4th, and Will Charles (Anna-Jonesboro)-5th.

Coupled with the soil judging event this year was the first annual Forestry Field Day.  After competing in the soil competition, students took a wild life tour on some of the forested lands at University Farms and learned about topics related to forestry such as wildlife photography, deer jawbone dating, wildland firefighting, habitat restoration, and tracking.   Dr. Jim Zaczek, Forestry Department Chair, stated he was happy to see the high school students enjoying the forestry activities.   “We were happy to share our love of forestry with the area students,” Zaczek said.  “I think they were pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of opportunities to study and experience forestry and natural resources at SIU.”  As the tour concluded, each school in attendance received a Biltmore stick, which is a piece of equipment used to measure trees. 

Both the soil science and forestry programs are looking forward to next year’s event.

Local high school students participating in the soil judging competition.