by Didi Pershouse
Learning resources and school residencies
AtlasBioWork, a flexible app for monitoring data
What we learned
It has been a rich and productive year with the Soil Carbon Coalition.
Our Soil Carbon Challenge continues, with new plots added and baseline plots being re-monitored across North America, and we continue to seek local partners—land managers, watershed groups, conservation districts, and schools—in monitoring soil carbon and other indicators of landscape function. Research facilities can’t possibly keep up with the huge swell of innovation that land managers are trying, nor can current research methods capture the complex (positive or negative) impact of every change we make in our dance with photosynthesis, soil microbiology, and the carbon, water and nutrient cycles. Why not, instead, view the whole landscape as a potential learning opportunity, and engage everyone as participants in the inquiry and creative process?
Peter has our data-collection and mapping app (https://atlasbiowork.com) up and running, and has begun testing it. This is a major advance in ease of reporting (in the field and at the desk) and will enable wider participation in repeatable data and monitoring. He will do a free introductory webinar on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at 11 am Pacific time (2 pm Eastern). Use this link to register.
I have developed over 70 pages of activities, curriculum, and fieldwork instructions to engage students and community members that will soon be formatted so that they can be shared widely in online and print versions, and I have tested these materials and activities with students from Vermont, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Chicago as a basis for developing larger projects in other states. Most exciting for me is that I have been asked to develop a soil-health curriculum (building on materials I’ve been testing) for career-tech FFA agricultural programs at over 350 public high schools in Oklahoma.
We both have done outreach through conferences, teacher trainings, and social media. Public support for—and engagement with—our projects is growing. Students, teachers, farmers and community members are now learning about the power of whole-systems land management and restoration; the microbiology and physics of soil aggregates; principles of soil health; soil’s role in climate resilience and carbon, water, and nutrient cycling; and hands-on monitoring skills for tracking long-term changes in land function.
Students testing water infiltration outside a public high school in Chicago
As we travel the country and visit schools and farms in different regions, we are reminded that context is everything, and that intelligence is everywhere. Goals are different, landscapes and weather change, and farming and educational cultures are unique. Wherever we go, we learn, and we get to witness people learning and changing. Because of our travels we often get to cross-pollinate between regions, and witness and respond to both local contexts. We know we are blessed to have this opportunity, and we take it seriously. We are committed to being a responsive organization.
Our goal is to raise $150,000 this year, and we could use your help. We currently have an offer for a $4,000 matching grant from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Sustainable Future Fund. Please consider making a tax deductible to the Soil Carbon Coalition (on the lower right hand menu of this website) or send a check to:
Soil Carbon Coalition
501 South Street
Enterprise, OR 97828