By: Alyssa Heldman
The Hardin Northern FFA had two soils teams compete in the State Soils Contest that was held virtually, on Tuesday, October 20. The urban team consisted of Leif Trachsel, Wesley Newton, Bella Wilson, Aubry Smith, Preston Wykes, Alyssa Heldman, and Cooper Thomas. Hardin Northern’s rural team was made up of Luke Wilson, Lance Good, Owen Wetherill, Zeb Wilson, Renee Newton, Carl Woodruff, and Landon Wetherill.
Hardin Northern’s rural soils team won the District 4 FFA contest with three top-five finishes by Luke W., Lance G., and Owen W.. The rural team also placed 10th out of 164 teams in the state contest. The urban team placed 4th in districts and placed 34th in the state out of 108 teams.
Competing in the State Soils Contest this year was very different from in the past. Due to COVID-19, the contest was held virtually. The participants of this contest were provided with an electronic scantron sheet and videos to explain the textures and structures of the different soil layers. Both rural and urban teams judged three pits from the view of their computer screen, took a general knowledge test, and took a soil survey exam.
As a comparison, these contests are naturally held in person and are very hands-on. Contestants get into the pits to measure and feel the soil. Switching this over to online was a very big change for the competitors who were so used to this being a hands-on contest.
Luke Wilson, four-year rural team member, had this to say about the contest being held virtually compared to his previous years of judging: “The contest being held online was a lot more difficult because when you’re judging soil you’re not just judging the pit but you’re looking at the surrounding area and the fields, and without being there it is harder to get a feel of the land.”
The Hardin Northern FFA Chapter would also like to give a big thank you to Denny Hensel and Crooks’ Ranch for allowing the use of their land for practice pits for both the urban and rural teams.