Well, I left for my cross country trip on Sunday to visit with soil scientists in both Georgia and Oregon. As per usual when I have to travel the weather wasn't exactly supposed to be great for the trip to Columbus, OH to catch my flight. It turned out to be OK in the end since the bad weather wasn't moving in until the afternoon and I left in the morning. However, I had to fly through Chicago (ORD), which was getting the weather that Ohio was expecting - freezing rain. I was lucky this time because my flight to Atlanta went on time. Once in Atlanta I rented a car and was off to Athens and aside from the fact that I was trying to read directions in the dark, I made it to the hotel without too much trouble.
The Soil Science Society of Georgia (SSSGA) meeting was at the State Botanical Gardens (part of UGA) and it was a beautiful setting - even in the early spring. Of course, the 70 degree weather didn't hurt! I got to the meeting early and was invited to sit in on their Executive Committee meeting and listen to their discussion on current legislation that affects soil scientists. The bill discussed had to do with consumptive use/water conservation. The SSSGA Executive Committee is well-informed and in-tune with what is going on in their legislature. This might be expected since the group has gone to the legislature in the past to support a bill for licensing soil scientists in GA, and they have been successful in moving the bill through the legislature. Unfortunatley the Governor wouldn't sign the bill when it got to his desk. However, now they have a new Governor and are contemplating trying it again. This will be something that they will be discussing and trying to figure out how to finance -as they know a good lobbyist is worth the money, but they do cost a lot of money.
After the Executive Committee meeting we had lunch prior to starting the conference. I was treated to a good southern lunch of barbecue, Brunswick stew, and sweet tea. I still think my favorite barbecue place is a roadside place near Pittsboro, NC, but this was good too. I also got to see a few people that I hadn't seen in awhile, which is always nice!
The conference started with a student presentation (undergraduate) that was working on understanding erosional landscapes and sources of sediment. It was an interesting talk and there were several questions asking about how to use it or scale the methods to be useful for consulting. After the student presentation was a talk by the Department of Community Health. This talk covered a fair amount of information regarding septic systems, current regulations, and how the department lists consultants. I followed with a talk about licensing and certification, with some information SSSA's strategic plan, and information on our 75th Anniversary and meeting in San Antonio.
I had to fly out of Atalanta yesterday morning, but was invited to stay with friends on Monday night so as not to have to live in hotels all week long. They own a horse farm and own greyhounds and whippets - which is how I know them. Their house sits on 60 acres and is the quintessential southern home and is one of my favorite places to just relax on their sprawling front porch - well, actually it is more of a veranda. In any case it was a wonderful place to wind down. I also got a treat in sleeping with the windows open since it was warm - talk about a little piece of heaven for the northern girl in February! I should note that conversations about soil come up when you least expect it and part of the conversation that evening was directed at discussing what type of soil(s) would best support the footing and proper vegetation for running dogs - lure coursing or racing. It was an interesting question since soil that is hard an dry can tear up a dog's pads badly. The person I was visiting had seen dogs run in England several times and said the peaty soils that they run on seem to work well. His wife brought up that the soils in KY seem to be good, especially for horses but perhaps for a different reason with nutrition. It was an interesting discussion with two people who aren't soil scientists, but have learned how soil is a significant factor in their hobbies.
So now I am in McMinnville Oregon! I had a meeting with some state agencies this morning in Salem talking about soil scientists, their talents, and legislation. Tomorrow I will be speaking to the Oregon Soil Science Society (OSSS) at their winter meeting. The title of my talk for them is SSSA: 75 Years and Looking Forward. I will report more on this part of the visit later; but I am here until late Friday. Oh, and they are supposed to get the worst weather of the winter tonight and tomorrow. Today hasn't been bad, but you can tell its gearing up and the President of OSSS has been keeping constant communication to ensure people know what is going on - although she has said that the meeting will go on! Today has been mainly off and on rain/sleet/snow with a lot of wind. However, now as I look out the window it is sunny with a great big rainbow. That should give us some luck - right?