Paul Reich1, Hari Eswaran1, Ted Kupelian1, Maxine Levin1, Amy Yeh1, Henry Ferguson2, and William R. Effland1. (1) USDA-NRCS, 324 Spry Island Road, Joppa, MD 21085, (2) USDA-NRCS-NGDC, PO Box 6301, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26505
Throughout the history of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS), soil science education has been a part of the mission to better understand one of our Nation's most precious natural resources: the Soil. The poster will highlight the many products and programs related to soils that NRCS has developed over the years for K-12 and college/professional education. NRCS-produced monographs, bulletins, scanned historical documents, and slide sets covering topics on soil properties, classification and management have become an important part of the university soil science curriculum. Many of these products are now available in digital form and their availability on CDs and via the Internet has greatly increased their distribution. Computer game software such as “Scoop on Soil” help to engage a younger audience accustomed to digital media in learning about soils. High school and middle school teachers who include soils in their curriculum can use the Resource Conservation Kit for Educators which contains classroom lesson plans plus detailed instructions and materials for demonstrations of soil properties. Calendars, maps and posters that are attractive as well as informative are effective products for promoting soil science. Collaboration with organizations such as the National Science Teachers Association and Boy Scouts of America has resulted in the development of educational information that are targeted to a particular audience. Youth outreach, such as activities with the Girl Scouts' “Linking Girls to the Land” program and Boy Scouts of America merit badges in soil and water conservation not only provide educational materials but also encourage young students to consider careers in natural resources. Fun, “hands-on” activities, like creating a mini-soil profile or viewing anaglyph images of soils and landscapes with 3-D glasses, help to spark an interest in audiences that are generally not aware of the wonders of soil science.