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Tuskegee University Soil Judging Team Placed at 2022 Southeast Competition

Tuskegee University Soil Judging Team showed up with force during the 2022 Southeast U.S. Soil Judging Contest held at Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina. The University Soil Judging Team members are Phil Angelo Estrada (Captain), Senior Environmental Science Major; Elijah Desean Logan (sophomore, Occupational Therapy Major), Olivia Bowles (Junior, Agribusiness Major); and Nayomi Rapier-Jones, (Senior, Environmental Sciences Major). Only two (2) Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were in the contest of 13. They were Tuskegee University and Alabama A&M University from Normal, Alabama.

TU Elijah Desean Logan and Phil Angelo Estrada placed 22nd and 29th individually out of 88 participants, respectively. Their positions ranked them in the first quartile percentage, and the two other team representatives placed 40th and 54th. This spectacular achievement put Tuskegee University Soil Judging Team in the best position thus far in the judging contests over the years. Being the participants' first exposure to these rigorous exercises in extremely cold climatic conditions, Elijah, who has never taken any soil science class and yet performed excellently, was a glorious moment for him, the TU Soil Judging Team, and the University as a whole. The TU Team placed 9th out of 13 Institutions that competed, with Auburn University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Georgia, placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively.

“In my view, though we did not qualify for National, which was our target, I sincerely applaud our students for making these 1860s run for their money by putting fears into them. Everyone was asking where we come from, and our response was, we are from Tuskegee to their shocks!!,” said Dr. Kumi.

“Secondly, we are incredibly grateful to our NRCS sponsors, for all their help and willingly promised to increase their donations for us to do better. Much gratitude also goes to our scoring Lead, Elijah Logan who was only recruited to the team, just a week before we left for the competition.”

The TU Team is most grateful to USDA/ NRCS for their financial and technical support over the years. The TU Team was trained by Mr. Cooper Nichols, Mr. Robert Wade Gossett, Ms. Danielle Smith (All from NRCS/USDA), and Dr. A Kumi. Other institutions present were North Carolina State University, Western Kentucky University, West Virginia University, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Middle Tennessee State University, and the University of Kentucky, as well as the Host, Clemson University.

The TU Soil Judging Team cord group will compete at the 2023 contest in Morgantown, West Virginia. "With more training and exposure, Tuskegee University can easily challenge and compete for Regional and National accolades in Soil Judging" according to Dr. Kumi.