Not many people can say that they placed 11th as an undergrad competing against Ph.D. students. Kelli Roush is the lucky holder of this title. The third International Soil Judging competition was held a week before the 21st World Soil Congress.
The soils in Ro de Janero, Brazil are very different from here in Iowa. Kelli had the opportunity to see an Oxisol, but most of the soils she worked with were Ultisols or Alfisols. They spent three days practicing and learning about the environment they were in before the competition started. Kelli and the other team members had to adapt to the way Brazil judges their soils.
“Once you figured it out though it was much simpler and just something you had to keep in the back of your mind as the week progressed,” Kelli said about adjusting to the new judging style.
After they spent the day learning the new techniques, everyone from around the world would get together and learn about everyone else’s cultures and their own programs at their colleges.
On the day of the competition, there were a total of 60 competitors. The United States is the only team who brings undergrad to this competition, while the other countries and teams bring individuals who have completed their master’s degree and are working on their Ph.D. or have completed their Ph.D.
In fact, the average age of the team from South Africa was 28!
The best part about the whole trip though, according to Kelli, was being able to work with different agronomic/soil science professionals.
Kelli was on Team USA 1 were they placed 1st team judging, 2nd overall, and Kelli placed 11th individually. Team USA 2 placed 1st for the overall competition. Congrats to everyone who participated in this opportunity.