My oldest, Casey, a freshman at Iowa State University, is in Monticello, Ark., as you read this. She is competing with her teammates at 2015 National Collegiate Soils Contest, held at the University of Arkansas.
I'm proud, to say the least. But I get to be doubly proud as her best friend, Erin – a girl I watched grow up, and who lived right next to us – is also competing in the soil judging contest.
I helped coach both girls, and watched them develop their love of soil judging. And now, they are soil judging at a national collegiate level. Too bad they aren't on the same team, or even the same college – they would be unstoppable.
I asked Casey to tell me what soil judging meant to her and this is the response I got. (I might have cried, and smiled, and then cried a little more!)
A year ago today I tweeted this tweet: "What makes me happy is that at one point Erin and I probably said in our little kid voices: We're gonna be friends forever. And we really are."
I guess that's just what happens when you grow up right down the road from each other. But who really knew that our friendship could survive college? Especially different colleges in different states.
I read somewhere that there are microbes in soil that physically make you happy, but soil makes me happy for other reasons too.
Soil judging has impacted my life in the most positive way. It was where I found my role models. It is how I was able to travel all over Indiana and Oklahoma. It helped me find my place at Iowa State. It is how my best friend and I got close.
She used to live right down the road from me. Now we are 350 miles away from each other, and more miles than that away from the road we grew up on.
While we are off doing our own thing, we really aren't. Both of us are agronomy majors and we both still have a passion for "all things soil". And this week, I am spending it with my best friend judging soil in Arkansas.
Yes, we will be on different teams, with different coaches – but the fact that we both still have the same interests and pursing the same degree so far from home and each other makes life happy, along with those microbes in the soil.
We have plans to be agronomists together someday, who know where or how that will go. We are taking it day by day, soil pit by soil pit.
I love that she not only learned about soil and found a passion, but that she has learned about life and friendships in all those soil pits, too.
The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.