March 2015: Ag Day at CA State Capitol




Kayla Burns (recent MS graduate) and Katelin Alldritt (PhD student) setting up soil booth
to welcome AgDay participants


Gordon Rees (PhD student) representing SBG Grad Group at the soil booth to promote
soil education


Prof. Jan Hopmans (UC Davis Vice Provost of Global Affairs) and Katelin Alldritt (PhD student)

Click on photo below for video of AgDay elementary school student answering the question,
"why we should not till soil"


Photos and video courtesy of J.H.



Fall 2014 - Spring 2015: "Dig It!" Exhibit at The California Museum

Soil science is often absent from primary education curriculums. However, it is highly complementary with subjects required by state and national standards and offers an opportunity to integrate numerous subjects. Soil science offers a unique perspective on global challenges, which reflects the fundamental role of soils in the terrestrial biosphere earth sciences and consequently translatability of soil science knowledge to related disciplines and challenges. From March 2014 – 2015, University of California-Davis Soil Science and Biogeochemistry Graduate Group (SBG) students partnered with the California Museum in Sacramento to integrate soil science into primary education using the traveling soil science exhibit, Dig It! Secrets of the Soil, originally designed by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and Smithsonian in 2010.

UCD students served as docents for local grade school students on field trips to the exhibit. In these efforts, UCD docents aimed to raise awareness and knowledge of soils and their importance to society, as well as raising interest in soil science career opportunities. Primary school educators, museum staff, SSSA and UCD SBG students worked to make the exhibit an extension of the classroom aimed at education grades 2-9. Grade-specific tours and activity-based workshops were designed to address state and national Common Core Curriculum standards. Primary educators were provided with resources to facilitate incorporation of soil science into classroom material.

A total of 607 students, from grade 2-12 and CSU Sacramento and American River City College, were introduced to soil science using the California Museum. UCD docents by a combination of introductory lecture and demonstration of soil principles with model soils, followed by guided tours in the Dig It exhibit. To engage students in soil science, hands-on activities centered on soil phenomenon like infiltration and run-off, and aggregate shapes and stability. SBG graduate students also designed and implemented training for museum docents, for general public and classroom tours. These interactive aspects were the basis for a soil science summer day camp featuring the exhibit for children ages 6-13. Additional activity in which UCD docents were involved included a Sacramento Farm-to-Fork showcase evening, Symphony of Soil Family Day, and special tours for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and California Department of Conservation, and a soil erosion science project for California grade school students. Discussion of the exhibit as an external classroom to deliver soil education to primary school students was also presented by Katelin Alldritt and Andrew Margenot (UCD SBG grad students) at the annual Soil Science Society of America meeting in Long Beach, California. Collaboration between academic institutions like UC Davis and professional societies like SSSA with educational institutions like the California Museum present strong opportunities for UCD graduate students to gain valuable experience in outreach, while at the same time showcasing and delivering UCD expertise in disciplines like soil science to the public and especially the next generation.


Participating UCD students

Graduate Student Coordinators: Katelin Alldritt & Andrew Margenot

Graduate Student Docents: Olivia Yu, Kayla Burns, Kelly Gravuer, Mark Felice, Barbara Alves, Jessica Chiartas, Garett Long, and Andrew Brown

Undergraduate Student Docents:Tracy Tilley & Martin Rosas





The exhibit entrance at the California Museum in Sacramento, CA




Andrew Margenot (PhD grad) introduces the concept of soils as something worth studying
because of its value to human society to a group of younger audience




Barbara Alves (PhD grad) preparing the demo cart for a primary school class


Photos courtesy of K. A.



Summer 2014: Soil & Wine in Washington D.C.

On behalf of the Soils and Biogeochemistry Graduate Group, SBG Chair Toby O’Geen along with the Associate Dean Jan Hopmans and five SBG graduate students organized an outreach event at a Congressional reception in Washington, D.C. to highlight the importance of soil science and graduate education. Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and the UC Davis Chancellor’s Office also provided assistance for this event. The five graduate students, Stewart Wilson, Deidre Griffin, Gordon Rees, Hannah Waterhouse, and Jordon Wade, discussed the importance of soil science in water management, agriculture, climate change, and air quality at meetings with Congressional staff and members. In total, they met with six Congressional offices: Garamendi, Matsui, Bera, Swalwell, Farr and Thompson.

At a Congressional reception co-sponsored by UC Davis, the Soil Science Society of America, and the Wine Institute, over 20 members of Congress and 200 staffers learned about relationships between soil and wine. In preparation for the event, and with Stu Wilson’s leadership, graduate students visited the five California wineries that were being served at the reception and took samples of the soil in order communicate concepts of how differences in soil (texture, color, structure) may effect on the taste, look and smell of the wine. We produced posters and four, one-page documents with tasting notes, soil notes, an analysis of the wine growing region, and facts about the particular soils found in that region. Below is an example.






SBG Grad Students and Associate Dean Jan Hopmans (LAWR Professor) representing the
Graduate Group and the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at Soils, Vines,
and Wine" event in Washington D.C.

Left to Right: Prof. Hopmans, Jordon Wade, Deidre Griffin, Hannah Waterhouse,
Gordon Rees, and Stewart Wilson




SBG Graduate Students preparing soils in wine glasses for meeting with congressional offices.



Ph.D. Graduate Student, Gordon Rees and MS Grad Student, Jordon Wade prepping soils
prior to meeting.




SBG Grad Students collected soil samples from five wineries in California to discuss the
importance of soil science in water management, agriculture, climate change, and air
quality at meetings with Congressional staff and members.



Grad Student, Stewart Wilson and Congressman Mike Thompson toasting with glass of soil.

Photos courtesy of S.W.