Student Spotlight: Riley Hackbart

Riley Hackbart
Riley Hackbart

When Riley Hackbart was given the choice between staying inside to do homework or going outside to study soil – the decision was easy.

“I was like: ‘I’m definitely going to do soil judging’,” he said.

For this week’s #SNRStudentSpotlight, soil was not always the dream. The fifth-year senior came in to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a microbiology major but quickly realized it was not for him.

A semester in an intro to soils class changed his mind and career path. He decided he wanted to help save the environment and do it with soil. Now as an environmental restoration science major with minors in water science and biology, Hackbart does just that.

“I thought I would give that class a go, and I ended up really enjoying everything about it,” he said.

Hackbart’s favorite class, Great Plains Field Pedology, introduced him to the School of Natural Resource’s Soil Judging Team. It was a required class for his major but allowed him to get outside and learn more about his field.

SNR’s Soil Judging Team has a history of winning big, and this year was no different. They won first place overall, three individual awards, and a third-place team finish. And, this is the third time they’ve won first place.

For Hackbart, the team has brought him good friends and more experience with soils. And it has helped him get closer to his goal. He plans to become a field soil scientist where he will analyze what’s wrong with certain soil and figure out solutions to help it.

Currently, Hackbart works for the NRCS in the Kellogg Soil Survey Lab through the university. He processes soils and prepares them for testing.

“Essentially, we grind the soil down to the size they need so they can do tests on it,” he said.

Hackbart credits some of his success to SNR because of its small community and helpful advisers. He also likes the SNR career fair because it has specific companies for student’s interests.

“I like SNR because it’s smaller so the advisors can get to know who you are and remember who you are,” he said.

Alli Dickey, Natural Resources