Illinois FFA Chapters Water Testing Challenge Winners Announced

Tara Desmond

Jan 18, 2024  |  Today's News |  ICMB |  Conservation

For the 2nd year IL Corn partnered with Illinois Soybean Association to offer the Water Testing Challenge to all Illinois FFA chapters.  This hands on educational program challenged students to sample water from different areas on the farms, then analyze that data with a report that included improvement suggestions and management changes with explanations on why it should change.


"We were thrilled by the engagement and the chance to educate the future generation of agriculturalists the importance of the IL Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and general best management practices. Acquiring the skills to recognize potential challenges and devise solutions is a valuable asset for their future. The vitality of soil health and environmental stewardship is pivotal to the future of agriculture," said Megan Dwyer, Director of Conservation and Nutrient Stewardship at IL Corn.

Get to know the Winners

1st Place – Lainie Clark - Fairfield FFA

"Thank you so much to the IL Corn and Illinois Soybean Association for this opportunity. I would also like to thank my advisors, Mr. Curt Robbins and Mrs. Samantha Smith for their assistance throughout the project. I feel that it is important to continue to learn safer farming practices to ensure a better environment for years to come. I will use this money to further my education at Eastern Illinois University."




2nd Place – Anna and Ruth Sullivan- Home Fires FFA

Anna and Ruth Sullivan said, “We are glad to know more about nitrogen and to help support our chapter with this project."

Homeschool Teacher Shaun Sullivan said, "It was great to have a homeschool project where the girls and our whole family could gain knowledge and a greater understanding of the role of nitrogen in agriculture and the implications of the practices used by farmers regarding nitrogen around where we live, including on our own farm.  They were then able to better comprehend the potential impact it may have on water quality."  



3rd Place – Gavin Friel- Blue Ridge FFA


4th Place – Daniel Boswell, Isaac Lynes and Jazmen Moran - Kewanee FFA

Isaac Lynes says, "My experience doing the water hypothesis was an interesting and informative experience. Through this learning process I learned the importance of knowing your surroundings ,and especially your safety when it comes to water. This is important for many reasons. Bodily health and environmental safety. Ingesting unsafe water is super unsafe. So overall I've learned the value of water safety and how and where people collect water. I'm super grateful for this experiment I've learned a lot."

5th Place – Dominic Hagan, Brett Hilmes, Wyatt Paterson, Christian Schwarz, Chase Voss, Angeleen Wesselmann, and Bradley Huelsmann - Mater Dei Catholic FFA

Teacher Erika Knolhoff states, “I enjoy getting the students involved in this.  I really get to see some of them get engaged and really think about where they would like to take samples.   When the samples come up with low levels of Nitrogen they think something is wrong but we go back to the fact that that is probably a good thing.  It gives real life context as to why the detailed science learning is important so we can understand what is happening in our real world.  A great way to get students to see the significance of nutrient management.  This year I had several students that are just as interested in Natural Resources topics and I was able to bridge this to overall water quality for our local and regional ecosystems.”