WILMINGTON — Wilmington College’s soil judging team bested much larger schools like Penn State and Ohio State universities as it took third place in team competition in the Northeast Region judging contest Oct. 7.
Hosted by Penn State at State College, Pennsylvania, WC’s competitors found soil significantly different from that found in southwestern Ohio as they evaluated its rocky, non-glaciated soil for such properties as structure, texture, color and indicators of the water table.
Wilmington College also competed against teams from the universities of Maryland and Rhode Island, as well as Delaware Valley State, Stockton (NJ), Westchester (PA) and Bloomington (PA) universities.
“We were the smallest there,” said team adviser Jason Snead — and likely the youngest, as the students were exclusively sophomores and freshmen. “No one had more than one year of experience. They just used what they studied and learned, and applied it.”
Members of the third-place WC team are Spencer Latham, and captured 16th placed out of 86 competitors, Sean Drew, Samuel Richer and Lynnsey Maassel. The College’s “B” team, which took eighth place from among the 22 teams, is comprised of Brady Smith, Brandee Painter, Rebecca Allen, Chelsea Allen and Peyton Vest.
Snead is a 2007 graduate of WC’s agriculture program and, since earning his master’s degree from Texas Tech in crop science, has served as director of the Clinton County Soil and Water District, a position for which he is in charge of all soil evaluations. He has been an adjunct faculty member and soil judging team coach since 2009.
He explained the team prepared for the grueling day of competition with two days in which they practiced evaluating soils in central Pennsylvania. “Game day” lasted from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in and around the soil pits.
“It’s a lot of work, but they make it fun,” Snead said, noting it’s impressive that such a young team could take what it learned in a soils class, practice for two days and be so successful in a pressure-filled competition.
“This is what a soil scientist does — it doesn’t get any more hands-on than this,” he said, adding that this experience will help prepare the students if they get into the soils side of agriculture, plus having this knowledge and experience will give them insight into what should be planted or not planted in various soil types.