One of the publications that the ASA-CSSA-SSSA puts out is the CSA News. This month's publication has a feature article entitled "Reclaiming Our Turf" authored by Madeline Fisher, contributing writer for CSA News. I have made it available below so that you don't have to go to the website and sign in to read it.
So why this article to initiate the blog? Because I think it gets to the heart of the issue with the practice of soil science and more importantly the future of our profession. I would encourage you to read it, think about it and comment on it. I am interested in your opinions and ideas.
To get started, I have posted below an email that I received this morning from Ted Hartsig that was addressed to myself and Larry Baldwin, who is also quoted in the above referenced article. Ted is a soil scientist and works in the consulting business. His comments:
That article highlighting the efforts of both of you to promote soil science as a profession in this month’s CSA news was right on the money. As was stated, this is something we have really strived to address since the early 90’s, and it’s been often frustrating to be able to move forward. Now, as I’ve pondered my renewal in the SSSA, I’ve been wondering what benefits I might see – and this is the first evidence. My impression – and that of many, many other practicing soil scientists, is that the SSSA is solely an academic society that serves as a publishing venue for research. While that is often good in of itself, the Society has provided little benefit to practicing soil scientists other than the CSA News and the Certification program. Dawn – you and me have discussed this many times.
Larry – in the article you state that many of your new hires are coming in with generalized degrees. I see that too – and we really do need the new employees with core knowledge to fill our gaps.
All this said – it is heartening that soils and soil management is starting to become much more recognized in both a profession and more importantly as an important practice. In the work that I do in the Midwest (Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, etc), many people are truly waking up to the concept of “I need a soil scientist to help me” with any number of projects. My work has largely been in the realm of stormwater management, ecological restoration, water re-use (as it is applied in irrigation), urban soils management (starting to pick up a lot of interest there), compost operations, and general restoration of drastically disturbed sites. My near 30 year career includes restoration of many contaminated sites. This summer I had a call from one of the most prominent Landscape Architecture companies in the country. They said that in their work of designing and constructing the landscape for the George Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, that they need a soil scientist – could I help. The ensuing work has been terrific, and as I explain soils on site, and the concept of imported and/or “manufactured” soils needed for the project, their eyes have really been opened. In a recent meeting of the project team, including the Bush Foundation, the project leader stood up and said “the success of this project is found in the soil we manage on site.”
All this said, what can I do to continue to help in this endeavor to keep promoting soils as a profession. Currently I do a LOT of public speaking regarding environmental management and sustainability. Inevitably, it most often comes back to or includes soils and soil management. It’s gratifying how many people step up and say they “get it.” Dawn – if I can help in your work, you know that I’d be more than happy to, including starting the process of getting licensure in Kansas, Nebraska, Misssouri, and other states.