UW-River Falls Students Take First Place in SASES Program Competitions

November 14, 2013 – Students from UW-River Falls (UWRF) took top honors in two competitions at the 2013 Joint Annual Meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America. The competitions were part of the Students of Agronomy, Soils and Environmental Sciences (SASES) program held in conjunction with the annual meeting, Nov. 3 -6 in Tampa, Fla. 

More than 250 students from universities across the country participated in the SASES program.  Ten students participated in the undergraduate research oral presentation contest; four of them were from UWRF.  Jabez Meulemans, a senior environmental science major from Hudson, took first place with his presentation titled, "Implications of Land-Use Change on Soil Organic Carbon and Sequestration Opportunities in Western Wisconsin."  Holly Dolliver, associate professor of Geology and Soil Science, co-authored Meulemans' presentation.

"All of our research students invested a significant amount of time into their projects and gained valuable field experiences and learned important skills beyond what we can do in a classroom setting," said Dolliver. "They represented UWRF very well and demonstrated that we can compete with major research institutions." 

In the SASES Club Poster Competition, the student organizations from each campus were invited to prepare posters featuring a club activity or project from the past year. The UWRF Crops and Soils Club poster, "Educating Thousands of Young Gardeners and Potential Crop and Soil Science Program Recruits in the St. Croix Valley Region of Wisconsin," was awarded first place in the competition. The poster described the club's collaboration with the YMCA Camp St. Croix in Hudson to produce, harvest and deliver more than 1000 pumpkins for an event that brought area children to the camp where they could "pick" a pumpkin from the restructured field, paint it and take it home. The club poster was co-authored by Jennifer Kuffel, a sophomore in dairy science from Oostburg, and Danielle Dykes, a sophomore from Almond, majoring in agricultural business. Veronica Justen, assistant professor of crop science, and Bill Anderson, professor of agronomy, were advisors on the project.  

In addition to those mentioned above, five other UWRF students participated in the SASES program, including Caleb Riedeman, Brandon; Nicolette Broeske, Dorchester; Jordan Wiersma, Walters, Minn.; Austin Haag, Deerfield; and Jenna Lisowe, Oconto Falls.  Riedeman, Broeske and Wiersma participated in the undergraduate research oral presentation competition along with Meulemans; Haag, Lisowe and Dykes competed in the undergraduate research poster competition. 

Anderson praised the student's performance saying "I could not be prouder of our placements in the contests this year.  For the first time, we placed first in the Club Poster contest. The student authors' are evaluated by a panel of professional crop and soil scientists in terms of their presentation abilities, the uniqueness of their project, the quality of the prepared poster, its organization and flow, as well as the students' ability to respond to the evaluators' questions."

In the professional sessions, Dolliver gave a presentation, "Transformation From Traditional Lecture-Lab to An Integrated Studio-Hybrid Course Format – Student Performance, Feedback, and Lessons Learned." Dolliver described her success in transitioning an upper-level geomorphology course to an integrated studio-hybrid format, where students are responsible for all content and background material outside of class via online lecture, and all class time is devoted to working on activities, projects and field exercises. The format change resulted in a significant improvement in student performance.

SASES group 2013

Group photo, L-R: Danielle Dykes, Caleb Riedeman, Jordan Wiersma, Austin Haag, Jenna Lisowe, Nicolette Broeske, Bill Anderson, Jennifer Kuffel, Jabez Meulemans, Holly Dolliver.

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