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RIVER FALLS - University of Wisconsin-River Falls students performed well against their peers from across the nation at the annual Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences (SASES) conference in Tampa, Fla., October 21-24.

The conference featured poster and oral research symposia, a manuscript competition, intercollegiate team contests, professional development and social activities, and regional tours focusing on unique aspects of the Florida geology, water systems and agricultural industry. Seventeen UW-River Falls students participated in one or more of the events. Some 283 students from 60 different universities attended the conference.

Stella Pey, a crop and soil science major from St. Louis, took first place in the manuscript competition and second place for her oral research presentation “Impact of Long-Term Conservation Reserve Program Enrollment on Soil Quality.”

In the poster research symposium, Jordyn Bush, a crop and soil science major from Lakeville, MN, took first place in her section with her project, “NIRS Analysis of As-Fed and Prepared Samples of Corn Silage.” 

For the speech contest, the student prepared a 5-7 minute speech on one of three topics selected just hours before the competition. Matt Kortbein, a crop and soil science major from Warrens, took first place with his speech about soil erosion practices that have paid off.

Cody Guenther, president of the UW-River Falls Crops and Soils Club, represented UWRF in the Presidents’ Trophy competition. A representative from each participating club was given five minutes to highlight some of their club’s unique activities over the past year with the hope of being awarded the Presidents’ Trophy as the best SASES chapter of the year.

Guenther, a crop and soil science major from Lafayette, MN, took third place with his presentation focusing on the club’s Share the Harvest community service activity and their social media initiatives including Member Monday and Internship Spotlight features. The Share the Harvest event, which included a dinner, silent auction, and children’s activities, raised more than $1,800 to benefit the River Falls Food Pantry and Grow to Share Community Gardens.

“Traveling to SASES to compete and win with the research I worked so hard on really made all of the long hours in the lab worth it,” said Bush. ”This experience only added to the fire that is my passion for agronomy and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to do something like this. On top of the educational seminars and networking with industry professionals, having the chance to bond with my peers and professors in this setting was invaluable.” 

The SASES student conference is held each year in conjunction with the annual joint meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America. Four UW-River Falls faculty accompanied the students to the conference, including Veronica Justen, associate professor of crop science, who is one of the three national advisers for SASES. 

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