Collegiate Soils Team takes top honors at recent competition

Soils team
Pictured in the back from, from left to right, are: Andrew Mitzelfelt, Karlee Ketelboeter, Bailey Hermanson, Sara Breuer, Sam Peetz, Wrangler Jones, Paige Behrens and Coach Chris Baxter. Pictured in front row, left to right, are: Paul Gunderson and Gabriela Strobel.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Collegiate Soils Team competed in the 63rd annual Region 3 Collegiate Soils Contest Oct. 9–12. The event was held in Portage County, Wisconsin, and was hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Participating in the event were 48 students from six universities: UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point, Purdue University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois State University and The Ohio State University. The event involves intensive study of soils and landscapes of a region and culminates in both individual and group competitions, which test the participants' abilities to describe and classify soils using a scientific system called Soil Taxonomy. The contestants also determine limitations of the soil for specific land uses, such as building sites and septic systems based on specific soil properties. Scoring is based on the agreement between the contestant’s descriptions and those of professional soil scientists serving as contest officials. Contest officials were Jeff Deniger and Kevin Traastad, soil scientists with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Dr. Bryant Scharenboch from the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point. Trophies were donated by the Wisconsin Society of Professional Soil Scientists.

UW-Platteville students participating in the event were Paige Behrens, from Huntley, Illinois; Sarah Breuer, from Glen Haven, Wisconsin; Paul Gunderson, from Batavia, Illinois; Bailey Hermanson, from Mineral Point, Wisconsin; Wrangler Jones, from Elroy, Wisconsin; Karlee Ketelboeter, from Dane, Wisconsin; Andrew Mitzelfelt, from Winthrop Harbor, Illinois; Samuel Peetz, from North Freedom, Wisconsin; and Gabriela Strobel, from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

In the individual competition, Peetz took home first place honors, while Jones and Breuer placed sixth and tenth, respectively. The UW-Platteville-A team made up of Peetz, Jones, Breuer and Behrens placed first in the overall competition, qualifying UW-Platteville for the National Collegiate Soils Contest to be held in Spring 2020 in Ohio. The team placed third in the group judging portion of the contest.

Funding for team travel was provided by the Segregated University Fees Allocation Commission, and the donations made by alumni and friends to the UW-Platteville Foundation - Soils and Crops Teams Endowment Fund.

For further information, contact Dr. Chris Baxter, professor of soil and crop science at UW-Platteville at