I get up early and the guys are ready by 6:30 for our 7:00 am departure, then I see a team leaving and remember that we have to be at the NRCS office at 7:00, so we gather up all and leave at 7:45. Without much traffic we still arrive in time. We travel for 30 minutes to a farm about 13 miles from our meeting place.
The contest starts under cloudy, dark skies with the radar showing rain on the way. The first site is completed in the dry and after 50 minutes the teams change places. Minnesota does a great job on this site and scores 286/294 for 93%, At the next site that has a Btx1 and Btx2 the rain begins and the team has to work under an umbrella. They still are able to collect their samples but their coloring suffers along with determining the brittleness of the Btx horizons.
At ten we are headed back to the motel to clean up and wait for the contest awards which are scheduled for 2 pm. We have some lunch, then stop for coffee and fill out post cards that will be sent to the donors who helped support our trip. We arrive at the school at 2:00 and here the awards will now be at 3. At three nothing happens and eventually at 4:10 the Awards start. Virginia Tech is first, Maryland second and Iowa State was third. We don’t see the placing’s but do know we did not make the top 10 team or total and no Minnesotan broke into the top 10. I guess we won’t know our placing’s until he sends us a copy. At 4:30 we are on the road to Minnesota.
The trip home is long. We find two road construction areas going north in to Pennsylvania and waste and hour. We finally get off the freeway and cut through Washington Penn., and connect with 74 west. We have to detour around Indianapolis around 11 pm as they are having a very bad thunderstorm. We stop for gas and driver changes. Nora has a close call as a guy misses his off ramp and comes back onto the freeway and almost hits us in the side.
Tom and Blair take us across Ill and Wisconsin from midnight to 6:30 when we stop at the Norske Nook in Osseo Wisconsin. I have eggs, taters and blueberry crumble pie. All have a good breakfast and some take a piece of pie for later. We arrive at the soils barn, unload and I take the kids home to their appartments. We have completed a very successful National Soil Judging trip to West Virginia. We have learned a lot and had a good time visiting with students and professors from other campuses. I learned that next year the National will be at Plattville Wisconsin.
Results: Minnesota finishes in 15th place at the National Soil Judging Contest, hosted by West Virginia University in Morgantown West Virginia. Team members this spring were the same five students that competed at the regional in South Dakota in October 2011. The team members were Melissa Collins-Rutter who lives in Minneapolis and is a Global Studies major with a minor in Sustainable Agriculture. Thomas Bolas is a senior in ESPM living in St. Paul. Kate Edmond is a Senior in ESPM and is from Hopkins, Minnesota. Blair Bollig, an ESPM senior, is also from Hopkins/Minnentonka area of the Twin Cities. Nora Newsom an ESPM senior is from Chicago and New Hampshire, and also calls Northern Minnesota home. The team finished 15th place in the team judging, but were in 3rd place after the first site where they only missed 9 points out of 243. However, at team pit 2 the rain started in the 40 degree temperatures and the fragipan that was in horizon 4 and 5 was missed by the Minnesotans. They just don’t see very many in the home state, especially in the rain which made the brittle properties of the fragipan less than brittle and more like mud. In the individual three pits, Nora finished in 15th place out of the 84 contestants. Virginia Tech was 1st, Maryland 2nd and Iowa State was 3rd.
A great learning experience was enjoyed by all the contestants from the 21 teams that traveled to West Virginia. Next year the National is in Platteville Wisconsin.