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Evan Buckner

Evan Buckner wins Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge Award at 
Southest Arkansas Regional Science Fair
By Lynda Wilson

Evan Buckner, 15, a sophomore at Pine Bluff High School won the regional round of the Soybean Science Challenge at the 2015 Southeast Arkansas Regional Science Fair held at the University of Arkansas at Monticello on March 12.  Evan is the first Soybean Science Challenge winner in the Southeast region.  

Evan received a $300 cash award provided by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.  His science project tested two different soybean strains to see which one would be more effective in fighting a common plant pathogen.

“I won the first Soybean Science Challenge to have been held at the Southeast Regional Science Fair.  That is sometimes hard to believe,” Evan said. “I knew my project was good and could be applied to similar projects, but didn’t know if it was good enough to compete with other really good projects.” 

Evan Buckner, Soybean Science Challenge winner at
Southest Arkansas Regional Science Fair, discusses his
project with from left Soybean Science Challenge judges Brett
Stewart and Nick Seiter, Asst. Prof. and Extension Entomologist.
Evan also won 1st place in the Plant Sciences category at the regional fair and 3rd place   at the Southwestern Energy Arkansas State Science & Engineering Fair at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway on April 4.
Evan completed an online Soybean Science Challenge course to meet the eligibility requirements to have his projected judged at the fair.  The part of the online course that appealed most to him was the fact that “soybeans produced in Arkansas go out across the world to help in the fight of world hunger.  The fact that your state ranks within the top five national soybean producing states really says a lot about your state and its soybean production.”  

Before taking the Soybean Science Challenge online course, Evan did not know very much about soybeans except that they were a major crop in Arkansas and were used in many other products.  From his participation in the course, Evan gained much more knowledge about soybeans.  “I learned that soybeans help benefit the world around us and that researching more about viruses in the plant can help the industry.”

Evan’s parents, Anissa and Edmund Buckner were highly pleased that he won the Soybean Science Challenge award.  “We were both out of town and the news was quite a surprise to us, but we knew he had done a lot of work in preparing his project and collecting data,” said Evan’s father.

“Evan’s grandfather was a soil scientist and Evan used to work with him at his farm and talk to him about what he did at work.  Those small conversations undoubtedly sparked a lifelong interest.”

According to his parents, Evan stayed outside for hours just walking around looking at plants and trees and asking about doing gardening projects.  His interest in plant sciences has blossomed over the last three years.

Evan is a multi-talented individual currently taking two math classes with special permission.  His interests vary from gardening to building Legos, playing soccer, the piano and the viola.  He wants to position himself academically to compete for admittance to colleges that are high on his list, particularly Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Evan Buckner with his 1st Place Certificate and his Soybean Science Challenge award check.

Continuing his research in soybeans by testing more soybean varieties for plant pathogens next year is on his horizon for his junior year science project.  Evan plans to compete again for the Southeast Arkansas Regional Science Fair Soybean Science Challenge award.

Evans’s project was also featured in an Arkansas Democrat article, “Science fair displays students’ ingenuity” in the Sunday, April 5, 2015 edition.

 “The Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge Award program is in its second year and is a partnership between the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board,” said Dr. Karen Ballard, Extension developer and director of the program.
“The goal of the Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge is to engage students in “real world” education to support soybean production and agricultural sustainability,” said Shannon Davis, past president of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.  “The program also rewards scientific inquiry and discovery that supports the Arkansas soybean industry.”

The Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge was launched in January 2014 to 9-12 grade science students.  Students who successfully completed the online course were eligible to have their original soybean-related research projects judged at the 2015 ISEF affiliated Arkansas science and engineering fairs.

Information on the 2015-16 Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge will be available in summer 2015.  For more information, contact Dr. Karen Ballard or Dr. Lynda Wilson at 501.671.2086 or

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 


Evan Buckner– First Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge Regional Winner –

Southeast Arkansas Regional Science Fair


Project Title: Fighting Pythium aphidnerdermatum in Soybeans

Category:  Plant Sciences


This project was done to find an alternative chemical compound that could be effective in fighting Pythium aphidnerdermatum in two different soybean strains.  Overall, there were 720 seeds used in this experiment.  The two soybean strains that were used were HBK5521 and Hutchinson.  Each group had 4 replications and two controls.  There were 10 seeds to a group of 18 petri dishes in each group (10 seeds in each petri dish) for a total of 720 seeds.  The groups were Metalaxyl treated seeds and Thiram treated seeds.  Both seed strains were infected with the plant pathogen, Pythium aphidnerdermatum except for the controls in the groups.  At the end of the experiment the Metalaxyl treated HBK5521 seeds had a higher seed yield of non-infected seeds than that of Hutchinson.

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