From soil judging competitor to coach

October 20, 2021

Most years, the UMN Soil Judging Team is coached by Prof. Nic Jelinski. Because he was planning this year’s regional competition, LAAS graduate students Hava Blair and Megan Andersen rose to the occasion and led this year’s crop of students. Andersen, who studies permafrost-affected soils in the Jelinski Pedology Lab, shares her experience, first as a soil judging student, and now as a coach of the Region V soil judging champions!

Megan Andersen, standing center, coaching UMN soil judging students

“My own experience with soil judging began during undergrad. I competed for the University of Wyoming at the Region VII competition in the fall of 2019. Soil judging was a tremendously positive experience for me, and a major influence in my decision to pursue an MS in Soil Science. My team qualified for the 2020 National competition, but that was cancelled due to COVID, so I was very excited to be a part of another contest," said Andersen.

Andersen (bottom left) interpreting a practice soil pit with the UMN soil judging team

“I honestly believe that I learned more as a coach than I had as a competitor, both about soil and my ability to explain various soil processes. I had never been in a position like this before, and it was so rewarding to see the team learn as the week progressed. The entire team was so dedicated to understanding the concepts, it made my job easy! Even those that were less experienced than their peers were performing at a similar level to the rest of the team by the end of the week."

Coaches Megan Andersen (far left) and Hava Blair (far right) with the UMN soil judging team

“They are an outstanding group of young men and women, and I know they will put in the work for anything they want to accomplish.”


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