Penn State soil judging teams win Northeast Regional contest

November 02, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A team of students from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences recently won the Northeast Regional Collegiate Soil Judging Contest in Wilmington, Ohio, qualifying to compete in the national championship in the spring.

Penn State entered two teams in the regional contest, which was hosted Oct. 15 to 19 by Wilmington College of Ohio. They finished first and second, with 3,408 points and 3,385 points, respectively. The University of Maryland was third with 3,338 points

Comprising the first-place team (Group 1) were Melissa Pierce, a senior environmental resource management major from Mercersburg, Pa.; Nancy Kammerer, a sophomore agroecology major from Gettysburg, Pa.; Sara Jones, a senior environmental resource management major from Montrose, Pa.; April Doroski, a senior environmental resource management major from Wyncote, Pa.; and Jacob Gogno, a senior environmental resource management major from Pottsville, Pa.

On the second-place team (Group 2) were Seth Baker, a senior environmental resource management major from Mill Hall, Pa.; Mitch Fleming, a senior agricultural science major from Sharpsville, Pa.; Curtis Kennedy, a senior environmental resource management major from State College, Pa.; Scott King, a senior environmental resource management major from Hillsgrove, Pa.; and Rachael Krizmanich, a junior environmental resource management major from Edinboro, Pa.

In the individual component of the contest, Penn State's Doroski placed second, Kammerer finished fourth, Jones was fifth and Kennedy came in sixth. In Group Judging, Penn State's Group 1 took first and Group 2 took third. Wilmington College was second.

"Soil-judging competitions allow students to practice describing and interpreting soils," said team adviser Patrick Drohan, assistant professor of pedology. "At the recent contest, students were directed to describe soils formed in glacial parent materials."

Penn State teams have participated in the Northeast Regional competition each fall since the 1950s, Drohan noted. The contest is part of the Soil Science Society of America's commitment to soils education and provides participating students with an opportunity to see new soils and to test their skills against peers from across the region.

"I am exceptionally proud of this year's team," he said. "They had the best overall finish at regionals in the team's history. Eight of them are very new to soil science and performed incredibly well. Any company looking for a great field soil scientist should feel confident hiring them."

Drohan said traveling to Wisconsin to take part in the national competition will be a great, but costly, experience for the students. Those wishing to support them can contribute to the team's efforts here.  

Also competing in the regional event were teams from Delaware Valley College (Pennsylvania), Ohio State, University of Maryland and the University of Rhode Island. The national soil judging championship will be hosted by the University of Wisconsin at Platteville.

More information about the team and the 50-plus-year history of soil judging at Penn State is available online here.     


  • Team members, standing from left, were Nancy Kammerer, Melissa Pierce, April Doroski, Scott King, Rachael Krizmanich, Seth Baker, Sara Jones, coach Patrick Drohan, Curtis Kennedy, graduate student coach Cody Fink and Mitch Fleming. Reclining was Jacob Gogno.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 02, 2012