Crops team members gain global perspective

October 6, 2015
Crops team members on Australian farm
Crops team in Sydney

PLATTEVILLE, Wis — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville was represented on the United States Collegiate Crops Team that competed in the Australian Collegiate Crops Contest Sept. 16-18 in Temora, New South Wales. Erica McComish of Shullsburg, Wis.; Nick Theisen of Wisconsin Dells, Wis.; Rodger Williams of Doylestown, Wis.; and Austin Underdahl of DeForest, Wis., along with a student from Virginia Tech University placed third out of six teams. The contest included two teams from the United States and four Australian teams.

The team qualified through United States national crops contests in Chicago, Ill., and Kansas City, Mo.

The trip was 10 days, from Sept. 9-19, during which students were able to visit a variety of sites including farms, landmarks and tourist attractions. Along the way they learned a great deal about Australian agriculture. “Once we traveled out into the countryside there were bright yellow canola fields as far as the eye could see,” said Theisen.

“We were able to meet local farmers,” said Williams. “We talked with the other students and saw the various types of agriculture in different parts of the country.”

“The more you get to travel the world the more you realize it isn’t that big,” said McComish. “You start to realize that what you do at home does relate everywhere else and that we are becoming globalized.”

According to Dr. Roger Higgs, professor emeritus and coach of the UW-Platteville collegiate crops team, the Australia contest was much different than contests in the United States. The United States contests consist of plant and seed identifications, commercial grain grading and seed analysis. The Australian contest used Australian grain grading standards and different names for most weeds. It also involved exams on oil, pulse and grain crops and financial management.

The American Society of Agronomy, UW-Platteville crops and soils alumni and Dr. Milton Engelke sponsored the team’s trip to Australia. Glenn Webb Education Fund/The GROWMARK Foundation provided previous funding.

“ ... if there is an opportunity for other students in the future such as this or just funding the crops team ... I am going to be the first person to raise my hand to donate. This has literally shaped my future and made my college career."
                             — Austin Underdahl

The students are grateful for the opportunity to broaden their horizons and for the experience to learn from their counterparts in Australia. “We see the value in the crops team and I can’t thank Dr. Higgs, the sponsors and UW-Platteville enough for the opportunities that have been presented to me on the crops team,” said Underdahl. “I am very thankful. I pray and hope that we continue to get the support for travel and the funding needed for the crops team to continue to be successful.”

“In a world where everything is so expensive it’s nice to know that with hard work you can go and do it,” said Theisen. “With that support it’s the American dream. It’s amazing to be able to do something like that and it changes your view on giving back. We’ve been supported so much.”

“I was telling my grandpa and grandma that if there is an opportunity for other students in the future such as this or just funding the crops team, I said I am going to be an advocate,” added Underdahl. “I am going to be the first person to raise my hand to donate. This has literally shaped my future and made my college career.”

As UW-Platteville pursues its vision of being recognized as the leading student-focused university for its success in achieving excellence, creating opportunities and empowering each individual, it is guided by four strategic planning priorities. The students' participation on the United States Collegiate Crops Team aligns with two of the priorities, including providing an outstanding education and fostering a community of achievement and respect.

Written by: Dan Wackershauser, Communications Specialist, University Information and Communications, 608-342-1194,


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