Clemson University’s Soils Team, The Muddy Tigers, ends the fall semester with a grand showing at the Southeast Regional Collegiate Soils Contest in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Out of 60 participants, Clemson had three students – Devon Griffin, Cady Kurz and Caroline Gilmer – place in the Top 10. Overall, the Clemson team placed 3rd and advances to the National Collegiate Soils Contest hosted by Ohio State University in April 2022.
Gilmer is a senior plant and environmental sciences major with a soil and water science concentration from Pendleton, South Carolina. She has been a member of the Muddy Tigers since her sophomore year. Courses she has taken at Clemson were instrumental in helping her achieve success during the contest.
“Because I have a concentration in soil and water science, a lot of my courses were applicable to the competition,” Gilmer said. “It made the scorecard less overwhelming, and I was able to understand what was being asked. Also, it was very beneficial to be able to recognize rocks in the spill pile from the pit. With my geology minor, it was easier to understand what rocks may be present in different land positions and what material may be produced from that rock influencing what soil texture may be present.”
Emily Outen a senior environmental and natural resources major with an emphasis in conservation biology from Columbia, South Carolina, said competing in the contest was a journey.
“From the time we woke up until the time we went to sleep, we were head deep in soil,” Outen said. “There were multiple practice pits – 4-6 foot sections of soil that had been excavated – so that multiple students can observe and describe soil horizons. Dr. Park really has been the backbone for our team. Every day she helps us gain knowledge needed to not only describe what we are seeing, but to understand how the soils are developed and how they will continue to develop in time.”
Outen said became interested in the Clemson Soils Team when she took a soils class taught by Park.
“We go through a semester-long course which teaches us about different soil orders, where they can be found in different types of terrain and climate and a little on the soil chemistry and biology,” Outen said.
Ann Marie Brooks, a sophomore environmental and natural resources major from Abbeville, South Carolina, had fun, but admits she was “a little nervous.” Brooks is taking her first soils class this semester.
“I was nervous that I would misidentify a texture or be unable to distinguish between horizons,” Brooks said. “I was able to use what I had learned in class during the soil judging. I believe Dr. Park did a really good job at teaching us how to judge the soil and she did it in a fun way. Once we walked through the first few practice pits, Dr. Park split us up and told us we were competing with each other for the rest of the practice pits. This allowed us to simulate a competition in a no-stress setting.”
Practicing in the pits helped calm Annie Bruno, a senior plant and environmental sciences major from Aiken, South Carolina, who also competed for the first time.
“I was nervous, but once the competition started I remembered back to the practice pits and enjoyed the experience rather than letting my nerves take over,” Bruno said. “For Ohio, I know I will need to brush up on some of the material. As a team, we will likely go in the field to do more work in soil pits.”
Davis Linscott, a senior plant and environmental sciences major from Raleigh, North Carolina, said he benefited by competing in the regional competition.
“It felt like all I had learned in my soil classes was coming together to produce an amazing product,” Linscott said. “A lot of soil classes at Clemson apply to soil judging. Understanding correct classifications of soils will take you far in the competition. It helped me make more educated decisions while working through the competition score sheet.”
The students said they are excited about the opportunity to compete in the National Collegiate Soils Contest and will spend the next few months preparing.
Park became coach for the Muddy Tigers six years ago when the team needed a coach and she and Clemson University soils professor emeritus Bill R. Smith joined forces to coach the team. Smith passed away March 29, 2021. Payton Davis now coaches the team with Park who said it is an honor for her to coach the team.
“The students worked very hard every day in learning about the regional soils, and I am very proud of all of them,” Park said.
Griffin is from Frederick, Maryland and Kurz is from Clemson, South Carolina. Another member of the Muddy Tigers is Julia Jellema of Charleston, South Carolina.
Get in touch and we will connect you with the author or another expert.
Or email us at email@example.com