Soil and Community Awareness

By Zoe Ash | October 9, 2015


A Summer of Soil Quality

Fresh off the plane from Germany after a year away and suddenly I found myself in the interface between living abroad and my Senior year at OSU studying soils. Before me was three months of summer that I needed to use to start digging back into my studies of soil and what role it plays in natural resource conservation. Working with the Soil Quality Project (SQP) at Benton Soil and Water Conservation District was the perfect welcome back into not only my studies, but also my community.
Working with the SQP, I learned new laboratory procedures such as testing for aggregate stability, gained field experience and insight while sampling for dryland moisture content, entered and analyzed data using Excel, and lastly I synthesized data to be reported to farmers in the coming months-the Soil Quality Project coming full circle back to the farmers. That is exactly what sparked my interest about the SQP; the direction the project takes, as it is not working for any research database but it exists purely for the farmers, the people who are using the soil for its life-nurturing properties. With the SQP as their ‘tool’, they have access to laboratory methods and interpretation of results that may otherwise be hard to obtain. The SQP is so simple and effective. Witnessing the SQP work together with farmers, it gave me insight into how I can use my knowledge gained from my degree to work with people in my community.

Additional Activities
My time at Benton Soil and Water Conservation District not only consisted of working with the SQP, but I was lucky enough to be taken in immediately by Teresa and invited to many talks, workshops, and farms. Being invited to these events allowed me to get a glimpse into the professional conservation community in Corvallis and the surrounding area. Not only did I learn fascinating bits of information about slugs and slug control, gumweed seed harvesting, stream geomorphology, and seed production and distribution, but I ended up feeling more connected to the Corvallis area and beyond by having face-to-face interactions with professionals in my future field.
Now, diving into the current year of classes at OSU, I’m grateful that my summer was spent interning at Benton Soil and Water Conservation District, learning a variety of skills and working with a soil quality project educating not only farmers, but myself too, about the benefits of understanding good soil health and how to conserve and manage ‘healthy’ soil properties while working with different community organizations and members.


About the Author

Zoe Ash

I'm Zoe, a Senior studying Soil Science at Oregon State University. My experiences in the past couple years of my studies and my internship in Germany led me to work towards pursuing a career in soils- my interests being geomorphology and soil mapping. For the coming years, I hope to be spending time in research and graduate school, but in my spare time while I finish my degree, you can find me running on the trails around Corvallis, hiking, or rock climbing.

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