Senior wins national soil championship


Bianca Peixoto was crowned champion at the National Collegiate Soils Contest in April, beating out students from 18 other universities around the country, while the nine-member URI team placed ninth in the group competition. Together, their combined scores put URI in second place overall at the competition at Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania.

According to Mark Stolt, professor of natural resources science and the advisor to the team, soil judging is a contest to correctly identify, evaluate, classify and describe the profiles of soils from pits dug into the ground. Teams must qualify to compete at the national contest by placing in the top three at one of seven regional competitions.

“The competition gives students the chance to test their skills against regional soil experts,” said Stolt. “Just about every environmental firm in the country is looking for people who can evaluate soils. Those who compete are in demand when they graduate.”

URI students have won the individual national contest in three of the last five years, took the team championship in 2011 in Oregon, and consistently place in the top five teams.

Peixoto credits her championship win to Stolt, “Who teaches us not only how to judge the individual components of the soil, but also about how the soil forms on the landscape, widening our eyes to the big picture. Soil is the basis of life … where it all starts.”

Peixoto will compete at the first World Soil Judging Championships in South Korea in June.

The other members of the URI soil judging team are Ian Armitstead of West Greenwich, Michael Badzmierowski of Harrisville, Cory DiFillippo of Cranston, Chelsea Duball of Brentwood, N.H., Victoria Moebus of Norwich, Conn., Joshua Sargent of Wakefield, Ethan Sneesby of Pawtucket, and Chris Zuidema of Long Branch, N.J.