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RIVER FALLS, Wis. - Students from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls took top honors in several competitions and the highest elected office at the annual Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences (SASES) conference in Baltimore, Md., November 4-7. The gathering brought together 250 students from across the country.

UWRF student Jordyn Bush, of Lakeville, Minn., was elected president of the national SASES organization. After being nominated, Bush spent some time with as many of the student chapters as she could to find out what they wanted to get from SASES.

“It’s not my goals that matter, it’s about what the student members want and how they can benefit from SASES,” said Bush.

In her role as president, Bush will help plan the activities and preside over the 2019 SASES meeting next November in San Antonio, Texas.

Derek Lenzen, of Chaska, Minn., took first place in the oral research competition with his project “Iron Deficiency of Chlorosis Mitigation in Soybeans.” He also took second place in the agronomy research poster competition with a second project, “Year Two Evaluation of Fertilizer Source Effect on Corn Silage Nutritive Value.”

For the second year in a row, a UWRF student captured first place in the Darrel S. Metcalfe Student Manuscript Contest. Paul Tietz, of Waunakee, took the 2018 honor for his article titled “Behavior of Nitrogen in Frac Sand Waste Fines.” The project continued the research being done in Chippewa County, Wis., on the recovery of soil after frac sand mining led by Holly Dolliver, UWRF geology and soil science professor.

Melissa Preston, of Delafield, was awarded second place in the Soil and Environmental Science category for the research poster competition with her project “The Effect of Dairy Manure and Inorganic Nitrogen on Soil Fertility, Nutrient Uptake and Yield in Corn.”

The newest addition to the conference program was the Internship Poster Competition where students have the opportunity to highlight an internship experience they had and how it helped them with their future career choices. Molly McIlquham, of Chippewa Falls, took second place in this event with her poster “Helping People Help the Land” which described her internship with the National Resources Conservation Service. In her poster, McIlquham noted that she was able to experience the entire planning process by spending time in the field with the state biologist.

“What was cool about my internship is that there were other students from across the country that did an internship with NRCS but had widely different experiences and I was able to see that at the competition,” said McIlquham.

As part of the SASES Conference, students can participate in tours to learn more about the unique agriculture in the region of the conference site. The UW-River Falls group toured Baltimore County and visited Sagamore Farms owned by the CEO of Under Armour; a diverse operation (cattle, crop production and an on-farm brewery) owned by a young area farmer; and the Baltimore County Agricultural Center which includes greenhouses for the Maryland Food Bank, an equestrian facility, and row crop production.

The SASES student conference is held in conjunction with the annual joint meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of American and the Soil Science Society of America. Three UWRF faculty accompanied the students to the conference including Veronica Justen, associate professor of crop science, and Yoana Newman, assistant professor of crop science. Justen is ending her service as one of three national advisers for SASES. Newman will now take on that role.

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