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Lancer Spotlight 10/30/23: The Lancers succeed in first-year soil judging competition

Three+students+are+shown+practicing+their+soil+judging+abilities.
Courtesy of Ashley Abuelhawa
Three students are shown practicing their soil judging abilities.

This is the first year Linganore High School has participated in soil judging as part of its agriculture program. In its first-ever competition, the team, lead by teacher Ashley Abuelhawa, won the state contest on October 20. 

The team will now have the opportunity to go to Nationals, which will be held in Oklahoma in late April to early May, 2024. 

So, why soil judging? What is it, and why is it important?

Many everyday jobs require soil judging, whether one’s job is a scientist or a home builder. While these individuals may not get judged extensively on how well they classified their soil, many problems could arise if they make a significant error. 

Looking at the many different layers of soil can help someone understand how healthy or unhealthy the soil actually is.

Soil judging competitions are one way for people to practice this skill, and they are held annually in different states, according to the American Science of Agronomy

Fellow team member Hailey Pleasants said, “A really cool thing about being able to go to a competition is that we get to go to multiple different places and meet people who are interested in some of the same things we are.”

Soil Judging Competitions require contestants to identify and evaluate the soil profiles. It helps the student to apply knowledge to real-world systems and provides an opportunity for people to gain direct experience in the field, allowing them to learn more about agronomy.

The national soil judging contest is unique because it allows people to experience different soils, different people and different methods. Due to different states having various climates, the soil can be vastly different. A state that might receive more rain as compared to others would have more minerals and salts, for example.

Different soils from multiple places could possibly throw off the contestants’ judging abilities. The structure of soil from a northern state where the climate is different could almost be completely different compared to a southern state where it is constantly humid with no rain.

Before going to regional or national competitions, the students participating in the judging event spend significant time preparing themselves for larger competitions by studying and improving their skills.

Linganore soil judging member Allena Jaworkski said, “Studying and practicing by myself is going to help me prepare, although coming together as a team helps prepare just as much.”

The 2023 Linganore High School soil judging members are Nathan Pelino, Marshall Stephens, Hailey Pleasants, Allena Jaworkski and Lauren Cumberlage.

Linganore High School career and technology teacher and soil judging advisor Abuelhawa said, “I never knew much about this until Marshall Stephens asked me this school year if I would oversee’ the club.”

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