May 7, 2021
Carlisle senior takes both Soybean Science Challenge championship and FFA Agriscience Award
By the U of A System Division of Agriculture
- Alyssa Butler wins ASSC state competition for second consecutive year
- Butler also wins FFA Agriscience Award
- Claire Green, ASMSA junior, takes second
- Two competitors tie for honorable mention
(Newsrooms: With additional art at https://flic.kr/s/aHsmVycc1F)
LITTLE ROCK — Alyssa Butler, a 17-year-old senior at Carlisle High School in Carlisle, Arkansas, has had quite a spring.
Butler first won her regional-level competition in the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge, competing in the virtual Central Arkansas Regional Science and Engineering Fair on March 5. Butler then went on to win the state-level competition at the virtual Southwestern Energy Arkansas State Science and Engineering Fair on April 1. This was Butler’s second consecutive win at the state level.
Finally, Butler won the 2021 Soybean Science Challenge FFA Agriscience Award at the state FFA Convention Agriscience Fair on April 26.
Butler received a $1,000 cash award for her state win and $300 for her regional win in the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge. She also received $300 for her FFA win.
The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board funds all of the awards.
Butler’s project, “Greenhouse Host Resistance Rate Study on Soybean Cultivars to Southern Root-knot Nematode,” also received second place in plant science at the regional competition and third place in plant science at the state competition.
“Becoming the 2021 State Science and Engineering Fair first-place winner of the Soybean Science Challenge is so exciting, not only because it means so much to me, but also because of what it means to my parents, ag teacher and school,” Butler said. “I’m so happy I can represent my school and the people back home in this way.
“I learned that growing soybeans isn’t as easy as I previously thought,” Butler said, discussing the project that won her the state title. “There are so many different factors that play into the production of soybeans, from making sure they get all the sunlight and water they need to grow to the different pests that can prevent them from reaching their potential.”
Carly Bokker, an agricultural sciences teacher at Carlisle High School, served as Butler’s mentor throughout the project development and competition process. Bokker was awarded both the state-level and regional Teacher-Mentor awards in connection with Butler’s respective victories, as well as her win in the FFA competition. She said Butler’s passion for plants made her a strong candidate for the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge.
“Alyssa learned so much in her project in 2019-2020 that it was a natural fit for her to pick up another soybean project to do,” Bokker said. “She has a passion for plant pathology and will pursue a degree in that field after graduation in May 2021.”
Bokker said that Butler has excelled in plant pathology studies in recent years.
“Her knowledge of soybeans and soybean nematodes surpasses what most college students entering their first year of work even know,” Bokker said. “She has dedicated her last two years to learning as much as she can, and her receiving this award two years in a row corroborates that.”
Claire Green, a 17-year-old junior at Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts in Hot Springs won the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge second place award, after having won the regional award at ASMSA in February.
Green’s project, “Mushroom Meds for Bees” also received second place in animal sciences at the West Central Arkansas Science Fair and an honorable mention in animal sciences at the Arkansas State Science Fair. Green was awarded $500 for her second-place finish at the state level.
The 2021 Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge awarded two honorable mentions at the state level — an unusual occurrence, occasioned by two competitors receiving identical scores.
Cameron Holder, a 16-year-old sophomore at Nettleton High School in Nettleton, Arkansas, and Robert Lutgen, a 16-year-old home-schooled sophomore from Cabot, Arkansas, tied for honorable mention. Each was awarded $250 for their honorable mention placements.
Julie Robinson, associate professor of leadership for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the annual regional and state-level competitions have historically provided valuable opportunities for students to apply scientific principles of investigation while learning about some complex aspects of agriculture.
“The Soybean Science Challenge provides an opportunity for Arkansas junior high and high school students to participate in scientific research that can impact the state of Arkansas as well as the world,” Robinson said. “Soybean Science Challenge student researchers learn about this important commodity crop and its many uses, including feeding the world, development of biofuels and sustainable products.
“The Soybean Science Challenge helps students develop an understanding of the challenges and complexities of modern farming,” she said.
Gary Sitzer, a former member of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, said the competition series provided a valuable “real-world laboratory” for scientific inquiry.
“The goal of the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge is to engage students in ‘real- world’ education to support soybean production and agricultural sustainability,” Sitzer said. “The program also rewards scientific inquiry and discovery that supports the Arkansas Soybean Industry.”
The Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge was launched in January 2014 for students in ninth through 12th grade science students. Students who successfully completed the online course were eligible to have their original soybean-related research projects judged at the 2021 ISEF-affiliated Arkansas Science and Engineering Fairs.
Information on the 2021-2022 Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge will be available in summer 2021. For more information, contact Julie Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Diedre Young at email@example.com.
To learn more about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service