University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Soil Judging

Soil Judging is an intercollegiate competition that takes place across the country. Pitt-Johnstown participates in the Northeast Regional competition which takes place in early October every year, with a rotation of schools hosting the location. Qualifying teams will advance to the National competition held annually in April.
Soil judging is a hands-on learning experience where individuals learn from experienced soil scientists about the classification and identification of soil features to determine their suitability for human use. Soil judging develops and tests a student’s ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world natural systems.
To effectively manage our environmental and natural resources, soil classification systems have been developed to communicate the characteristics and properties of soils in consistent and understandable terms. By surveying/judging soil properties such as color, texture, and structure; horizon thickness; parent material(s); drainage characteristics; and landscape position, soil scientists can classify soils in the field to determine their suitability for human use (e.g. agriculture, roads, buildings, septic systems, etc.) and environmental functionality (e.g. hydraulic conductivity, effective soil depth, and surface runoff potential). 

Meet Our Soil Judging Teams!

2019-2020 Team

2019 was Pitt-Johnstown’s debut year in Soil Judging. From October 8th through 12th the team traveled to Easton Maryland for the Northeast Regional Collegiate competition. This competition was hosted by the University of Maryland at Chesapeake Farms near Chestertown, MD. Our team places greatly for our first year in 11th place. 

Team Members: 

Alex Colosimo Senior and Environmental Studies “Soil judging is a fun and educational experience that is a perfect opportunity for students to learn how to work as a team while getting hands-on experience with soil.” 

Dillian Jeffery Junior and Environmental Studies major “Soil Judging was a great experience of which I was extremely happy to be a part of. I went not knowing what to expect. For the first two days of practice, I was feeling very overwhelmed with information that was being thrown at me. By the day of the competition, I was feeling more confident. By the time we got our scores for the soil pits we had judged, I realized that I did a lot better than I presumed I would’ve. After the competition was over, I realized how much I had actually learned and how much of an advantage I had over the people in my soils in the environment class, who didn’t attend the soils competition. This was an incredible, and extremely fun learning experience. I am very excited to attend the next soil judging competition and am looking forward to learning more about soils." 

Hope Leer Junior and Environmental Studies major “Soil judging was a great time; we all had a blast learning outside of the classroom in a competition setting and I will be making another appearance at the next soil judging competition.”

Joyce Lynn Senior and Environmental Studies/Geography double major “The soil judging competition I attended this year taught me more than I could have ever learned in any classroom. 17 different soil pits over three days taught me more than just horizons, texture, and color; but also, teamwork and strategy when under the pressure of a time limit. I plan on attending the 2020 Soil Judging Competition to refine my skills and pick up on things I may have missed the first year and our school's first time attending!”

Olivia Toomey Junior and Environmental Studies/Geography double major “I really enjoyed the fact that it was completely different from anything I have ever done before, learning the basics of soil profiling was a fantastic experience that I will never forget.” 

Emorson Wentz Junior and Environmental Studies major “Soil judging is not just a short weekend competition. It is a 4-day immersive learning experience that is packed full of hands-on experience!” 

Richard Wagner Senior and Environmental Studies/Geography double majo

2020-2021 Team