Future scientists get hands dirty in soil judging event - External Relations
Future scientists get hands dirty in soil judging event
September 23, 2020
VINCENNES, Ind. - While most people their age were probably sleeping
in on a recent Saturday morning, 71 high school students from 10
schools were hard at work at 8 a.m. getting their hands dirty in holes
dug into the ground.
The students were participating in the Vincennes University/Purdue
University High School Soil Judging Invitational. The event was held
at the VU Agricultural Center and Southwest Purdue
Agricultural Center. It provides high school students the opportunity
to practice soil judging ahead of their official area events where
only the best teams are selected to move ahead to the state contest.
Soil is vital to life on earth. It allows plants to grow that provide
us with food to eat as well as other agricultural products. It
sustains animal life. Soil helps regulate water and filter potential pollutants.
VU is dedicated to helping students cultivate skills that are
essential to academic and career success.
Soil judging develops and tests a student’s ability to apply
knowledge to real-world natural systems. While in the soil pits,
students evaluate texture, color, and other components of soil.
“This kind of activity is the principal “feeder” program into the
world of practical soil science, whether that be private practice or
state/federal agencies such as the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources and Natural Resource Conservation Service. The vast majority
of practicing soil scientists on the Indiana Registry of Soil
Scientists did soil judging during their high school and college
years,” said VU/Purdue Agriculture Program Coordinator and Purdue
Extension Agronomist Dr. Charles Mansfield.
This year’s high school soil judging invitational was a joint
venture, serving as both the VU and Purdue invitationals. The event
had nearly double the participants from last year.
VU and Purdue’s College of Agriculture have a long-established
partnership. VU students who successfully complete the VU/Purdue
Cooperative AG Transfer program or a related VU science degree
can transfer to Purdue to complete a bachelor’s degree.
Following Covid-19 safety protocols, students were spaced six feet
apart to maintain social distancing and wore masks. Students
characterized four different soils/landforms and evaluated them for
appropriate land use. Two soil pits were for homesite use and two were
for agricultural use.
This contest allowed students the opportunity to hone their soil
evaluation skills and practice the decision making and thought
processes that go into making appropriate land-use decisions.
Official area contests will be held in the coming weeks to select
teams that will advance to the state contest, which will take place in
“We hope that many of these budding soil scientists will continue
their academic college careers at Vincennes University and be on VU's
2-year Collegiate Soil Judging Team while they're here,” Mansfield said.