Ten students from WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design traveled to Clemson, South Carolina, Oct. 6-9 to compete in the 2014 Southeast Regional Collegiate Soils Contest. WVU’s team members were among 71 students representing 11 schools digging into the red clay dirt of the southern Piedmont landscapes.
“After three days of practice, the team members were prepared for the unfamiliar soils and were able to calibrate their judging skills to the local conditions,” said James Thompson, a professor of soils and land use in the Davis College and the team’s coach.
The students who traveled with the team were: David Ackley, a junior in agribusiness management and rural development from Edon, Ohio; Ellie Bell, a senior in soil science from Snowshoe; Riley Biddle, a junior in agronomy from Carmichaels, Pennsylvania.; Caleb Griffin, a senior in agroecology from Friendsville, Maryland; Jimmy Leonard, a sophomore in argoecology from Middletown, Middletown; Emily Lessman, a sophomore in soil science from Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.; Adrienne Nottingham, a senior in soil science from Green Bank; Katie Stegemerten, a senior in multidisciplinary studies from Annapolis, Maryland.; Becca Swope, a senior in agricultural and extension education from Salem, Ohio; and Emily Wells, a senior in agribusiness management and rural development from Sistersville.
When the results were tallied, six WVU students placed in the top 25. Nottingham finished second, Griffin seventh, Swope 11th, Stegemerten 12th, Lessman 21st and Bell 23rd.
This strong individual showing propelled WVU to a second-place finish in the team competition. This is fifth time in the last six years that WVU has placed in the top three in the region, including two regional championships in 2009 and 2013.
The team will now begin to prepare for the National Collegiate Soils Contest, which will be held in the spring and will be hosted by the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
“As always, I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of all of these students,” Thompson said. “These students continue to build upon the past success of the WVU Soils Team, and students and faculty from other schools are noticing these students’ achievements.
“I believe this speaks to the quality of the training that these students receive from WVU’s Division of Plant and Soil Sciences,” Thompson said. “It also reflects the overall strength of the academic programs across the Davis College.”