Six Bloomsburg students recently had the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty at the National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest held in Woodward, OK. They were able to take advantage of this amazing opportunity thanks to the invaluable support of donors, particularly the John A. Enman Environmental, Geographical, Geological Sciences (EGGS) Endowment and Professional Experience Grants (PEGs). This article highlights how the contributions of these generous donors enhanced the students' participation in the contest.

The late Dr. Enman taught at Bloomsburg from 1959 to 1985 in the EGGS Department and established his endowment through his estate in 2015 to support students, faculty, and programs within the department. All continuing full-time students planning to engage in a professional and career development experience are eligible to apply for a PEG, which can be used to offset the costs associated with travel, living expenses, and other professional and career experiences.

Briaunna Makar, one of the participating students, expressed her gratitude for the funding, stating, "The support we received was immensely appreciated and allowed us to have a wonderful experience without the burden of worrying about expenses."

Mr. Michael Callahan, coach, and instructor of record for the EGGS Department Applied Soil Science course, traveled with the Soil Judging Team. "The thing about soils is that only so much can be learned in a classroom or from a book," said Callahan. "A true experience with soil comes from going outside and digging a hole. Being able to do that takes time and money, which is why donor support is so important. I can teach someone much more in the field than I ever could in a classroom."

According to contest rules, only four students were allowed to compete, but all team members participated in practice pits. However, Bloomsburg University students Phillip Hemsarth '25 and Daltin Gowin '25 were given the opportunity to compete in a secondary contest for students who did not fit into the main four teams, as explained by Mr. Callahan.

The four students who represented Bloomsburg in the soil judging competition were Briaunna Makar '22, Chris Michael '23, Nicholas Madey '23, and Esther Metcalfe '25. The contest focused on essential aspects such as soil morphology, taxonomy, and soil-landscape relationships. Students were evaluated based on their ability to describe soil characteristics and make interpretations for practical use accurately.

Reflecting on their experiences, this year's participants stressed how important it was for their fellow EGGS majors to consider adding a minor in soils to their curriculum. Each student expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the opportunities provided by the donor support that empowered them to thrive and succeed by giving them the opportunity to compete on a national level.