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Scott Wiesbrook: Soil Judging

Soil Judging

Since 2000, Scott Wiesbrook has been a co-instructor of Mr. Andrew Larson's Introduction to Soil Science (AG 282) class offered at Black Hawk College, East Campus. He has also assisted with instruction in Dr. Robert Darmody's Introduction to Field Pedology (NRES 276) class, in addition to being a guest instructor for Dr. Jeff Matthews's Wetland Delineation & Classification (NRES 285) class. As part of his outreach activities, Mr. Wiesbrook also works with soil judging teams in Illinois. These teams compete in contests designed to test the students' knowledge of basic soil properties, such as texture, color, and structure, as well as the students' understanding of interpretations made based on these properties and knowledge of local site characteristics. The students compete individually as part of a team at all levels; in addition, at the ASA contests students work together to fill out one set of results as a team. This helps expose students to the type of collaboration and teamwork that will be vital to their successes both inside and outside of the classroom. There has been a nationwide decline in students interested in studying soil science - it is therefore vitally important to interest our students in soil science and the protection and preservation of Illinois' most important natural resource, our soil. These contests are an excellent way to get students interested and involved in our field, and our teams have met with considerable success.

Since 2005, the University of Illinois' Soil Judging Team has placed fourth, sixth (twice), and seventh in the American Society of Agronomy National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest, in addition to placing first in the 2007 ASA Region III contest. Since Black Hawk College, East Campus (BHE) began to once again compete in soil judging in 2000, we have won seven national championships, in addition to having eight national champion individuals (see table).


BHE results at North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest.


YearContest LocationTeam PlacingHighest Individual Student Placing
2018 Norfolk, Nebraska First First
2017 Manhattan, Kansas First First
2016 Crookston, Minnesota Second First
2015 Galva, Illinois * *
2014 Maryville, Missouri First First
2013 Lubbock, Texas First  First 
2012 Coffeyville, Kansas First First
2011 Modesto, California First First
2010 El Reno, Oklahoma First First
2009 Wooster, Ohio Second First
2008 Stephenville, Texas Second Second
2007 Hutchinson, Kansas Third Fifth
2006 Macomb, Illinois First First
2005 Norfolk, Nebraska Second Sixth
2004 Galva, Illinois * *
2003 Murfreesboro, Tennessee Second Sixth
2000 Crookston, Minnesota First First

* In 2004 and 2015, BHE hosted the national contest and so we were not allowed to compete.



Man judging soil

Mr. Wiesbrook has also been intimately involved with nearly every detail of hosting these contests. In 2004 and again in 2015, he served as the superintendent of the NACTA National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest. Over 120 students from across the nation participated in these contests that he hosted, judged, and coordinated. This included site selection for both contest and practice pits, serving as an official judge, and coordinating schedules, equipment, and personnel. In both 2007 and 2014, Mr. Wiesbrook served as coordinator, superintendent, and official judge of the 2007 ASA Region III Collegiate Soil Judging Contest. Over 60 students from across the Midwest participated in these contests that he hosted, judged, and coordinated.



Girl judging soil

Since 2005, Mr. Wiesbrook has also served on the committee which reviews and edits the official rules for the NACTA contest. The committee has added and continues to add guidance to help new instructors become familiar with the rules, how to properly interpret them, and how to prepare a team for competition. The committee hopes to greatly expand the number of teams competing by making the contest more accessible to all.