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Purdue Soils Judging Team brings home top honors

Purdue soils judging team
SOIL JUDGES: The winning Purdue Soils Judging Team includes (from left) assistant coach Cathy Egler, Morgan Winder, Emily Smith, Troye Hook, Chelsea Emenhiser, Robbie Armstrong, Alyssa Kuhn, Jake Burke, Dakota Westphal and coach Gary Steinhardt.
A Purdue team dominated a recent soils judging contest held in Kansas.

The tradition continues at Purdue University. The Purdue Soils Judging Team brought back top honors from a recent trip to Kansas. Eight Purdue students competed in the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Collegiate Soils Judging Contest, hosted by Kansas State University in Manhattan. A Purdue team won the contest.

Purdue students also walked away with top individual awards in the competition. Jacob Burke placed first overall, Dakota Westphal took fourth and Chelsea Emenhiser came in sixth. Other Purdue students competing were Alyssa Kuhn, Robbie Armstrong, Morgan Winder, Emily Smith and Troye Hook.

The Purdue students are coached by Extension agronomist and soils specialist Gary Steinhardt. He is assisted by Cathy Egler.

Steinhardt is the longtime collegiate soils judging coach at Purdue, and also the driving force behind Purdue’s involvement in the 4-H and FFA soils judging programs in Indiana. Many believe one reason Indiana teams often fare well at the national soils judging contest held in Oklahoma each year is because of the intense competition and detailed instruction Indiana 4-H and FFA members receive through the state soils judging contest.

The state 4-H and FFA contest rules have been upgraded for 2017. Steinhardt and other Purdue professors led an effort to bring practices recommended by students in the contest up to modern standards, especially in the home-site evaluation section. Indiana soils judging teams can now study new, simplified manuals prepared by Steinhardt and staff that are online. The new rules for the state contest go into effect when competitions begin this fall.

Soils judging was only one of several NACTA contests held at Kansas State earlier this month. Purdue also competed in the crops judging contest. Tim McLochlin, director of agriculture for Ancilla College, Plymouth, which just started offering agriculture classes this year, says Ancilla students competed in the agribusiness contest.  

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