BLOOMSBURG, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Many of us grew up playing outside in the dirt until the sun went down well one competition held this week brings college students back to those roots and to the dirt around those roots.

The Northeast Regional Soil Collegiate Competition has been going on since the 1960s. This year the regional competition was hosted here at Bloomsburg University.

northeast regional soil competition coordinator
“They have to identify the soil horizons which are the naturally formed layers in the soil. And then for each horizon, they’re describing the soil color using charts. They’re describing the texture which is how it feels or how the particles size, like if its sandy or silty or clay,” stated Rebecca Bourgault, the Northeast Regional Soil Competition coordinator.

With eight schools from around the northeast, the competition is about using more than technology.

“Describing what we call soil morphology which is properties that we can observe with our senses in the field,” explained Bourgault.

Hose senses help to guide the students, despite the messy day.

“We have to get a little bit dirty to do it,” said Briaunna Makar, a Bloomsburg University student.

“What soil type is it? What is that soil best used for? Applications like farming and construction and septic systems,” stated Bourgault.

The skills they learn go deeper than just dirt level.

“Theyre learning this technical skill, but then they have to use critical thinking to make judgment calls and decisions that are not always easy to make,” explained Bourgault.

These students are passionate about their fields. Coming from a variety of earth science backgrounds.

“I’ve always been an avid outdoorsman so digging in the dirt is nothing new to me. I love doing it,” said Makar.

The students will be judged on Friday in the sunshine with the winners advancing to the national competition.

“I’m really interested in it. I hope to eventually apply for jobs in the soil category. I think it’s really interesting to me personally. I really enjoy digging in the dirt,” explained Makar.

Those who advance to the national competition will meet in Oklahoma later in the spring.