Collegiate soils team brings home 1st place

UW-Platteville team qualifies for national collegiate soils competition in spring 2020

Last week the UW-Platteville soils team competed in the 63rd Annual Region III Collegiate Soil Judging Contest in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.      “The UW-Platteville A team, made up of Samuel Peetz, Wrangler Jones, Sarah Breuer and Paigr Behrens, placed first in the overall competition, qualifying UW-Platteville for the National Collegiate Soils Contest, to be held in Spring 2020 in Ohio,” soil and crop science professor and soils team coach Dr. Chris Baxter said.

According to Dr. Baxter, dairy science and agribusiness student Samuel Peetz took home first place honors in the individual competition, soil and crop science students Wrangler Jones placed sixth and Sarah Breuer placed tenth.    

The team started out with a few days of practice to prepare themselves for the heated competition that would take place later in the week. On Thursday, members of the team took part in the individual judging competition. On Friday, the members of the team were split into two groups, the A team and the B team. 

“The event involves intensive study of soils and landscapes of a region, and culminates in both individual and group competitions which test the participants’ ability to describe and classify soils using a scientific system called soil taxonomy.     The contestants also determine limitations of the soil for specific land uses, such as building sites and septic systems based on specific soil properties. Scoring is based on agreement between the contestant’s descriptions and those of professional soil scientists serving as contest officials,” Dr. Baxter said. 

“It was a tough and competitive competition this year. We owe a lot of credit to our coach, Dr. Chris Baxter, for preparing us in a short amount of time. It’s a great feeling to have the trophy back in the ‘ville,’” Jones said.

“Dr. Baxter has a strong understanding of the soils up in the Steven’s Point region, which allowed him to teach us how the glacier movement impacted the soils there. With his knowledge and the great practice pits that UW-Steven’s Point provided for the contestants our team really gained a lot of knowledge about the landscape and soils. Our team competed well in this competition, and we are excited to represent UW-Platteville in the National Collegiate Soil Competition this upcoming spring,” Breuer said. 

Other students on the team shared their opinions too.

“With such a quick turnaround between the beginning of the year and our competition last week, I had low expectations for our team. It was a great week spent classifying and describing soils in Portage County, and an unexpected win helped top it all off,” Peetz said.

“Our team has an amazing dynamic. We push each other to succeed and we all learn from one another. We work really well together,” environmental horticulture and soil and crop science student Paige Berens said.

 “It was an amazing experience learning about all the glacial soils in the Northern region of Wisconsin. Down here in the Driftless region, we are lucky to study glacier-less soils, whereas, it was a different atmosphere learning about the sand lands and the glacial soils. We all studied and practiced hard for the competition, and we are very proud to represent UW-Platteville to bring home the trophy,” Reclamation and environmental conservation and soil and crop science student Gabriela Strobel said.