Soil Judging Team earns national honors

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 20, 2005 – Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Soil Judging Team captured the overall national championship at the 2005 American National Soil Judging Championship hosted by Auburn University, April 3-8. Twenty-two collegiate teams qualified at regional competitions to compete at the contest.

Doug Frisco, of Levittown, Pa., a senior majoring in biology, received first place in the individual contest, placing first among 88 students. The team also placed fifth in the team-judging portion of the competition, which involved more than 100 students. This is the second national title for Virginia Tech. The 1987 team also was national champion.

“Soil judging helps students to understand how factors such as climate, geology, topography, vegetation, and soil organisms react together over time to form a unique soil in a particular location,” said Steven Hodges, head of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. “The features they learn to observe allow them to assess how that soil may best be used, and determine its suitability for uses such as home sites, agriculture, waste management, recreational fields, roads, forestry, and intensive development.”

The Virginia Tech team members and their individual rankings were:

Frisco, placed first; Carlin Conk, Blacksburg, Va., a senior majoring in environmental science, placed sixth; Caroline Park, Richmond, Va., an environmental science major, placed 17th; and Scott DeBruyne, Joppa, Md., a forestry major, placed 27th.

The other team members are Caitlin Kovzelove, Chantilly, Va., environmental science major; Lisa Moore, Christiansburg, Va., a crop and soil environmental science major; and Robert "Dylan" Walker, Christiansburg, an environmental science major. Brett Valentine, Hagerstown, Md., a forestry major who graduated in December and was unable to attend, was a member of the team when it qualified for the national at the Southeast Region Soil Judging competition.

The team is coached by John Galbraith, assistant professor of crop, soil and environmental sciences, who is assisted by Andy Jones from Purdy, Va., and Alexis Sandy from Little Falls, Minn., both graduate students in crop and soil environmental sciences.