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Crops & Soils Club Take Top Honors

Crop and Soil Club Members at PittsburghBy Trista Gropp
University Communications

NOV. 23, 2009 | Members of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Crops and Soils Club made a name for themselves at a recent national conference in Pittsburgh, where students took first place in national contests and three were named to national positions in the undergraduate student organization, Students in Agronomy, Soils, and Environmental Sciences (SASE).

The annual meetings of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) run conjunctively with the SASE conference. The meetings provide a place for undergraduate students to get involved in the professional world and meet, compete, and network.

Each year the club attends the annual conference. Crops and soil science students have opportunities to present research projects, give speeches, enter in a manuscript contest, participate in quiz bowl, and work on a club project at the fall conference. Club co-advisor Holly Dolliver, who is an assistant professor of plant and earth science, says, “Students learn a tremendous amount. It’s an incredibly valuable opportunity for them to take part in.” Crop and Soil Poster

Dolliver and Bill Anderson, professor of plant and earth science, co-advise the student organization.

Several students took results of their research projects and presented them in a poster form, students include: Amanda Liesch, a UWRF graduate, Betsy Oehlke, senior crop and soil science major from Woodville, Tryston Beyrer, junior crop and soil science major from Colfax, Jason Cavadini, junior crop and soil science major from River Falls, and Ross Bender, senior crop and soil science major from Cleveland (Wis.). Liesch took first place overall with her project, “Effects of Cover Crops on Soil Structure” and Oehlke took second place overall with her project, “Digital Soil Mapping of St. Croix County.”

The two have spent a year working on their individual projects. Liesch teamed up with the University of Minnesota, doing a lot of her research in the field in west-central Minnesota. Liesch is currently a graduate student enrolled at Kansas State University.

With Dolliver as her research advisor, Oehlke worked to turn old maps that were in numerous books into a digital soil map of St. Croix County. Utilizing GIS facilities and working with the geography department, her results will be very useful for teaching and future projects.

Amy Robak, senior conservation major from Oak Park, Minn., participated in a speech contest. After drawing the topic, “Soil Conservation and Clean Water,” Robak had only a few hours to prepare a five- to seven-minute speech. Her speech won fourth place overall and took first place in the soil and water conservation division.

Matt Feldmeier, a sophomore dairy science major from Rushford, Minn., Brad Hartwig, a junior crop and soil science major from Merrill, and Liesch entered in the manuscript contest. In this contest students prepared a research publication, news article, or educational document back in June, which is then judged at the conference. Liesch took first place with a paper on “Phosphorous in Volcanic Soils of New Zealand,” a topic that was based off of her international study experience.

The UWRF Crop and Soils Club entered the National Club Poster Contest. Kristi Thompson, a sophomore crop and soil science major from Chatfield, Minn., and Ryan Eckert, a junior crop and soil science major from Medford, represented the group when presenting the club’s service activity “Grow to Share,” which was initiated in River Falls. The club helped to prepare and conduct soil nutrient analyses of the community garden near the river. This project placed third overall in the national contest.

The Golden Opportunity Scholars Institute, a unique program offered by CSSA pairing undergraduate students with a scientist-mentor, selected Cavadini as one of its selected scholars. Through this competitive program, Cavadini will have opportunities for career development and cultivating important networks throughout this year.

Also while attending the conference, students went on tours to an organic farm, winery, the Heinz Ketchup Headquarters, and the Pittsburgh Zoo, attended business meetings, networked with potential employers, and learned about graduate school opportunities.

The conference rounded up with the exciting announcement of new SASE national officers. UWRF can be proud of having three students in these new positions. Beyrer was named national vice-president while Thompson and Sammie Nyre, a senior crop and soil science major from Mondovi, were appointed as national committee chairpersons. They will be organizing the events of next year’s conference, building awareness of agronomy, and promoting involvement in SASE. The organization is based in Madison, but it conducts much of their business through monthly conference calls and meetings.

Dolliver is excited to see students so involved. “The field of crop and soil science is changing and evolving with the way we approach modern agriculture,” she says. “There are great opportunities for students to reach their potential, and I’m incredibly proud of the work and effort of these students who represented UWRF very well."

Photo, top right (L to R): Ross Bender, a senior crop and soil science major from Cleveland; Ryan Eckert, a junior crop and soil science major from Medford; Sammie Nyre, a senior crop and soil science major from Mondovi; Kristi Thompson, a sophomore corp and soil science major from Chatfield, Minn.; Jason Cavadini, a junior crop and soil science major from River Falls; Matt Feldmeier, a sophomore dairy science major from Rushford, Minn.; Betsy Oehlk, a senior crop and soil science major from Woodville; Tryston Beyrer, a junior crop and soil science major from Colfax; Brad Hartwig, a junior crop and soil science major from Merrill; Amy Robak, a senior conservation major from Oak Park, Minn.; and UWRF plant and earth science Assistant Professor Holly Dolliver (Advisor).

Photo second from top, right: Tryston Beyrer presenting his poster.

Photo, left: Jason Cavadini, Golden Opportunity Scholar.

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Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:09:56 Central Daylight Time

 

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