Soils Team Wins Gold


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

The UW-Platteville Soils Team secured a solid victory at this year’s soil contest held in McLean and Tazewell Counties, IL, between Oct. 5-8. Gabriela Strobel walked away with the most points out of any person who attended. 

Strobel, a fifth year senior double majoring in Reclamation, Environment and Conservation and Soil and Crop Science and minoring in Spanish, came away with 1,043 points at the end of the competition. She earned almost 50 more points than the second place competitor. 

Strobel attributes the win to her coach, Dr. Chris Baxter, saying, “He has a huge passion for soils, he loves what he does and he loves working with the students, and that’s what makes the Soils Team, and honestly, the Crop and Soils Department, what it is.”

Strobel and four other teammates scored enough points to earn the trophy for the team.

Abigail Field, a junior Soil and Crop Science and Agribusiness major, placed third with 996 points and Isaac Nollan, a junior Soil and Crop Science major, placed fourth with 994 points. Team members Andrew Mitzelfelt and Nicole Plenty additionally scored points to assist the team.

Another major reason for the victory, coaching for his eighteenth year, was Dr. Baxter. He is a professor in Soil and Crop Science as well as Reclamation, Environment and Conservation.

Field said, “The whole reason I came to the Soils Team was to hang out with Dr. Baxter. You could just tell he cared so much about everything he did.” 

Strobel added, “He’s like a dad to the team, he’s not just a coach.”

These soil competitions consist of evaluating various qualities of soil extracted from the ground. A competition typically lasts four to six days, depending on whether it is nationals or regionals. 

The team goes out and analyzes soil samples for many different characteristics; they determine different horizons in the soil, depth of a sample, chemical makeup of the soil and much more. Teams have 50 minutes to collect as much data and understanding of the samples as they can, which puts pressure on the competitors to move quickly. 

Coming up in the spring is the national competition, for which the team qualified due to their excellent performance at regionals. 

The participants contributed greatly in their individual competitions to drive the team toward the regional victory. 

Baxter remarked that “we didn’t do very good in the group score, but we didn’t … lose the overall competition because most of the points from the overall team (score) comes from the individual judging.”

With nationals coming up in the spring, team practices will be starting up again shortly. The team is currently accepting more students interested in soil science or in search of a new hobby.

If interested, students can contact Dr. Baxter at [email protected]