Katie L. Chaffin, Shalamar Armstrong, Alison M. Vogel and Kenzie Reber, Agriculture, Illinois State University, Normal, IL
As ambassadors of soil science and soil conservation, the Illinois State Agricultural Science Club designed and facilitated a Conservation Day for the entire third grade of Cedar Ridge Elementary School located in Bloomington, Illinois. The conservation day consisted of three simultaneous presentations designed to educate 73 youth about soil science. The first “Soil Sammies,” allowed students to actively plant seed, learn the difference between dirt and soil, and gain an understanding of the world’s arable land. The second was titled “Soil Horizons and Formation,” where students created soil profiles and horizons using cereal. The third presentation, “Soil Conservation,” exposed the students to an enviroscape that demonstrated soil erosion, agrochemical runoff, and the importance of proper management practices to conserve our environment. At the end of the program during our review students were able to name soil horizons, agriculture pollution sources, proper management practices, and they understood how soil helped plants to grow. The students received giveaways that consisted of “Soil: Dig it” bookmarks, “I Love Soil” stickers, Soil Ag Mags, and Eastern White Pine trees donated by the McLean County Extension. The teachers of the third grade classrooms were very willing to have college students in the classrooms, especially since the students have been learning about soil and agriculture. As a result of a successful conservation day, the Illinois State University Research and Teaching Farm has become a field trip destination for Cedar Ridge Elementary third grade classes. The supplies for the presentation were purchased by the Agricultural Science Club, the local McLean County Extension Office, the NRCS-USDA, and Ag in the classroom program. The Agricultural Science Club members were grateful to have been influential in educating the students about the value of soil in their environment and were rewarded by the student’s reactions to what they were learning!