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Agronomy Team Takes Home First at Weed Science Contest

August 2, 2013

MACOMB, IL — A team of four Western Illinois University students interested in agronomy placed first overall in the North Central Weed Science Society Summer Weed Contest held in Monmouth (IL) last weekend.

According to Mark Bernards, assistant professor of agronomy in the WIU School of Agriculture, more than 120 students, including a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, participated in the contest, hailing from as far away as the University of Guelph, Ontario (Canada), Cornell University, North Carolina State University, Kansas State University and the University of Nebraska.

The WIU team that took first place (based on a composite scoring of all events) included Sarah Ziegler Le'Jeune (senior, La Harpe, IL); Avery Le'Jeune (Spring 2013 graduate, Ferris, IL); Chris Corzatt (senior, Macomb, IL); and Deanne Donley Corzatt (graduate student, Mendon, IL). Bernards also noted that Ziegler Le'Jeune took first place overall in the undergraduate student category.

"The contest includes events that test the students' abilities to perform calculations related to weed management and general agronomy (calculations); to correctly identify weeds (weed ID); to correctly identify herbicides used based on crop and weed response (herbicide ID); to calibrate a sprayer in a timed event (sprayer calibration); and to role-play (farmer problem) visiting a farmer who has a problem in one of his fields then trouble-shoot the issue and recommend appropriate practices, if possible, to fix the problem," Bernards explained. "I am thrilled with our students' overall performance."

Ziegler Le'Jeune noted the winning four-person team was comprised of her husband, Avery, and another married couple, Chris Corzatt and his wife Deanne.

"It may be the first time a team of four for this contest was two married couples," she said.

According to Donley Corzatt, with the help of Bernards, she and her fellow team members have been preparing for the contest since the spring semester.

"Dr. Bernards held a class once a week as preparation for this contest, and every week we would meet and go over the different components of the contest: weed identification, herbicide identification, farmer problems, sprayer calibration and math problems. We also held a few summer practices prior to the contest," she said. "Dr. Bernards put so much into this team. He spent numerous hours helping us by preparing lessons, slideshows, as well as much more. He truly cares about each student's success professionally and personally."

Chris Corzatt said taking part in such activities as this weed science contest will help him with his ag career plans.

"I plan on working in the agronomy after I finish my degree," he noted. "Agronomy is such an important part of agriculture. Working in agronomy isn't just a job, it's an opportunity to provide for our world."

Three additional Western students, Joshua Burke (senior, Sublette, IL), Grant Dempsey (junior, Loraine, IL) and Joseph Struett (senior, Naperville, IL) also competed in last weekend's contest.

According to Bernards, in the individual events, WIU Team One also took first place in the sprayer calibration category and Ziegler Le'Jeune won first place in the event categories of weed ID, farmer problem and calculations.

For more information, contact Bernards at (309) 298-1569 or via email at Visit the WIU School of Agriculture online at

Posted By: Teresa Koltzenburg, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606