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Student Achievements

Soil Judging Team Takes Top Honors in National Competition

Students had just three days to familiarize themselves with the area's soil before the competition.

A flight delay and missed day of practice didn’t stop the Cal Poly Soil Judging Team from beating out 21 other teams to take second place at the National Collegiate Soils Contest at Oklahoma State University.

The competition held March 26-31 in Woodward, Oklahoma, included 23 teams from colleges and universities throughout the nation. The 10-person Cal Poly team advanced to the competition after a first-place finish at the regional contest held in November 2022 in Sonora, California.

“I have been to three contests, and I have to say it is one of the most fun, exciting and unique ways to learn,” said Andrew Litto, a fourth-year environmental earth and soil sciences major. “Soil is so dynamic and diverse, and traveling to see new soils is truly a privilege. At this contest, I was able to use what I have learned in my college experience and represent our university well.”

The Cal Poly team, coached by Professor Gordon Rees of the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Department, is comprised of students majoring in environmental earth and soil sciences and environmental management and protection.

The team was narrowly edged out of first place by the University of Maryland with a point margin of 2428-2422.

Each year the National Collegiate Soils Contest is held at different host institutions throughout the nation to expose students to different terrains. Teams must correctly identify, evaluate, classify and describe the four soil profiles at various soil pits as a professional soil scientist would, under a time constraint.