CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – West Texas A&M University announced a milestone accomplishment for its soil judging team, which qualified for nationals for the first time in a recent competition via a second-place win.

WT detailed that senior plant, soil, and environmental science majors Alex Kuehler, of Groom, and Cade Bednarz, of Lubbock, placed sixth and seventh in the competition respectively. The full squad also placed fourth in the team competition.

WT was the only Division 2 school represented at the regional competition hosted by Oklahoma State University in October, according to WT. The WT team competed against Texas A&M University, the University of Arkansas, Texas Tech University, and others. Next, the team is expected to compete at the national soil judging competition in April in Woodward, Okla.

Soil judging was described by WT as a competitive activity through which students develop skills related to soil conservation, soil science, agronomy, and agricultural education. Contests require students to describe basic soil morphology, geomorphology, and landscape characteristics, which are then scored relative to the descriptions generated by soil science professionals.

Agricultural research focused on soil has played a significant part in the work of environmental experts, water managers, and other community leaders to build strategies for sustainable resource management. Soil science was a major aspect of multiple discussions and presentations in the recent 2022 Texas Groundwater Summit, such as when Texas A&M AgriLife Research Associate Professor Katie Lewis discussed the results of a study focused on the impacts of regenerative agriculture methods on soil health and water storage.

“I am so proud of how hard these students have worked this year,” said Lauren Selph, team coach and plant, soil and environmental sciences instructor in the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences. “WT’s soil judging team was established in 2020, and it’s a testament to the students’ intelligence and determination that they have qualified for nationals so quickly. I am excited for the future of WT soil judging.”

Alongside Kuehler and Bednarz, WT said that other soil judging team members included:

  • Cristian Camacho, freshman plant, soil, and environmental science major from Booker;
  • Kylie Deaton, freshman agricultural communications major from Loveland, Colo.;
  • Payton George, junior plant, soil, and environmental science major from Azle;
  • Jacie Guerrero, freshman plant, soil, and environmental science major from Umbarger;
  • Bela Juarez, freshman plant, soil, and environmental science major from Plainview;
  • Shelby Lain, senior plant, soil, and environmental science major from Canyon;
  • Kassidy Langley, sophomore agricultural education major from Hico;
  • Paden Markham, junior plant, soil, and environmental science major from Wheeler;
  • Caden Morrison, senior plant, soil, and environmental science major from Mansfield;
  • Andy Rivas, senior plant, soil, and environmental science major from Perryton;
  • Dayson Schacher, freshman plant, soil, and environmental science major from Nazareth; and
  • Erika Van Houten, senior plant, soil, and environmental science major from Weimar.