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Serving: IN
Gary Steinhardt evaluates a dirt pit Tom J. Bechman
EVALAUTE SOILS: Gary Steinhardt, Purdue Extension soil specialist, evaluates a pit used during the 2019 Farm Progress Show soils judging contest.

North Decatur FFA captures FPS soils judging title

Teams competed for cash prizes in this invitational contest at the 2019 Farm Progress Show.

The tradition of holding a soils judging contest for FFA students was restarted at the golden anniversary Farm Progress Show in 2003. It continues today every other year, when the show is held in Decatur, Ill.

Several Indiana schools competed in 2019. Gary Steinhardt, Purdue University Extension soil specialist; Randy Staley, Clay City, Ind., a private soil scientist; and Scott Wiesbrook, a soil scientist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, judged a practice pit and four contest pits. Host farmer Dennis Brix dug the pits, and Dennis Bowman headed up a crew of University of Illinois Extension personnel who conducted and scored the contest. Farm Credit Mid-America provided cash awards for both top teams and individuals in Indiana.

Ironically, all five pits were well-drained and resembled some timber soils in Indiana. While most of the Farm Progress Show site consists of prairie soils with drainage issues, the area used for this year’s contest is in a transition zone between prairie and timber soils.

North Decatur FFA, Greensburg, captured first place in the Indiana contest. The team coached by FFA Advisor Tyler Johnson consisted of Olivia Vanderbur, Blaine Wagner, Sara Hasselbring and Kenny Geis.

South Newton FFA, Kentland, captured second and third place. Both teams were coached by Darrell Allen. The second-place team consisted of Alex Kindig, Andrew Kindig, Hayden Berenda and Kyle Weiss. The third-place team included Zovco McElroy, Stephanie Berenda, Irma Cruz and Logan Kollman.

The first-, second- and third-place individuals, respectively, were Vanderbur and Wagner, North Decatur, and Kollman, South Newton.

See the team photos below:

Elizabeth FryNorth Decatur FFA


WINNING CHAPTER: The North Decatur FFA members who competed in the contest included Nathan Ploeger (left), Kenny Geis, Jack Haunert, Lane Wesseler, Olivia Vanderbur, Blaine Wagner, Sara Hasselbring and Lizzie Fisse. The first-place team was Vanderbur, Wagner, Geis and Hasselbring.
South Newton FFA
2ND-PLACE TEAM: South Newton FFA took second place. Susan Ellis (left), Farm Credit Mid-America, joins Alex Kindig, Hayden Berenda, Kyle Weiss, Andrew Kindig and Darrell Allen, FFA advisor.
Zovco McElroy, Irma Cruz, Stephanie Berenda, Logan Kollman
3RD-PLACE TEAM: Team members from the third-place South Newton FFA team were Zovco McElroy (left), Irma Cruz, Stephanie Berenda and Logan Kollman.
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