A virtual soils contest took place on October 1-10, and students from our soils team participated in team and individual judging.
"There were 10 sets of cores (five for practice and five for the contest), and soil judgers were able to go over the practice and individual cores on their own. On a normal year, we would go to the location, maybe look at 12 practice pits, and have five contest pits (two for individuals and three for groups)," said Amber Anderson, assistant teaching professor and soils team coach.
Due to COVID-19, the whole team could not be together in the same room or next to the core, so the team used assorted technology to overcome this challenge. They made a sliding projecting rig that sits over a core, allowing the student next to the core to show others in either the room or online. Students could discuss the core as a whole and the samples were able to be split up for texture or other analyses.
With this year's circumstances, the contest looked a little different. Since students from colleges across the country couldn't meet in one place, samples had to be collected and distributed and talks were given virtually.
"Instead of visiting the places we would normally, the host school collected soil cores from those locations. They also got pictures and topography maps to distribute to all of the competing schools in the region ( University of Missouri at Columbia, Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, South Dakota State University, University of Nebraska-Omaha, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Kansas State University)," said Amber. "The normal geology talk was given virtually on October 4th and the host team hosted a social/trivia night during the week."
Amber noted that many other regions canceled their contests for the semester. Our region still wanted to allow students to see the soils and learn about the geology. The host school, University of Missouri at Columbia, was willing to collect and distribute the cores to the region's teams.
"Looking at results, our team placed second in team judging and Catherine Thom placed sixth in individual. I am proud of our team and the challenges that we have overcome this year," said Amber.