We are working to develop and launch the Purdue Soil Health online repository to provide a photo and video library and hands-on soil health educational activities for high school teachers. We will also hold workshops showcase this resource and how educators can use experiential learning activities to teach youth about soil health. The target audiences for the Soil Health Education Resources for Educators project are Extension Educators, other agricultural professionals, teachers, and high school aged youth. Project collaborators have observed a need for high-quality, experiential learning activities to assist teachers and other educators explain the importance and methodologies involved in improving soil health. This was confirmed by a survey of high school agricultural teachers from three states (Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa) in September, 2015. An advisory team collaborated to determine content needs for Purdue’s Soil Health website. Project outcomes include improved KASA (Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills, and Awareness) by educational event participants (Extension Educators, ag professionals, teachers, and farmers) as a result of participating in the educational event(s). Many of these participants will, in turn, educate others (especially farmers and youth) about soil health. Improved knowledge will, ultimately, lead to improved, soil-friendly farming practices thereby improving environmental quality, sustainability, and farm efficiency.
Short-term outcomes expected are increased participant knowledge of the importance of soil health and an awareness of farming and gardening practices that improve or decrease soil health. Forty (40) Extension Educators and other Ag professionals, fifty (50) teachers, and twenty (20) farmers are expected to attend one of the two educational workshops. Sessions will include talks, discussions and the opportunity to try some of the learning activities. Break-out sessions will target the different audiences. Workshop participants will receive information and resources that they can use to teach other adults or youth.
Intermediate-term outcomes from Extension Educators and other Ag professionals will show that thirty (30) workshop participants will report increased Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills, and Awareness (KASA) of soil health principles and farming practices necessary to achieve it. We also expect increased professional collaborations between participants from different entities to provide workshops for other farmers, teachers, and youth. We anticipate that thirty (30) Educators will conduct educational programs about soil health utilizing the new resources, at least in part. Furthermore, we expect that twenty (20) farmers will share their knowledge of soil health with other farmers, in classrooms or the media. Teachers are a primary audience and their need for these educational materials was the impetus for the creation of the Advisory Team and work to date. Consequently, we expect that a minimum of thirty-five (35) teachers will integrate project materials into their classroom curriculum and twenty-five (25) FFA and 4-H coaches will use the products developed to prepare students for Indiana’s 4-H/FFA Soil CDE. We also expect to indirectly impact fifty (50) farmers who learn from other farmers and 200 high school students who learned about the importance of soil health and how to achieve it from workshop participants or the Purdue Soil Health online repository. Our educational workshops will be based in Indiana but educators, farmers, and teachers from surrounding states will be welcome to attend. The new Purdue Soil Health online repository will be shared with state PDP Coordinators and teachers who completed our soil health survey in the fall of 2015.
The long-term outcome of improved soil health in the Midwest is the ultimate goal of this project. Improving soil health will lead to increased sustainability for farmers, improved environmental quality, and better protection of a nonrenewable, on-farm resource: soil. Collaborations between organizations to plan and provide soil health educational workshops (sharing resources and staff) will increase their capacity to provide programs in sustainable agriculture. These efforts will ultimately enhance the economic stability of farmers.
New educational activities were developed to compliment activities from the Indiana 4-H Soil and Water Science (SWS) curriculum to provide an online soil health resource for high school agriculture and biology teachers. The new activities were developed, as were the SWS activities, using the experiential learning model and incorporating as many hands-on activities as feasible for the lesson being taught. The activities were divided into two main categories: Soil Basics and Soil Health. Teachers who already have a strong background and/or lesson plans in soil basics can immediately use the Soil Health activities. Those who don’t can introduce the basic soil information they need from the Soil Basics section. Short, introductory videos are provided with nearly all the activities (USDA-NRCS and new videos created at Purdue).
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To provide soil health educational activities for high school teachers and resources for educators who provide workshops, webinars, and other training for adults.
We have developed educational activities, videos, and additional resources. for high school teachers to use to teach students about soil health. These resources are available for free online (www.ydae.purdue.edu/soilhealth/index.html). We have also provided some photos and videos (will be adding more) for Extension Educators and others who provide training to farmers and other adults.
We are working to make Extension Educators, agricultural professionals, and teachers aware of the newly developed online soil health resource that this funding provided. The resource will support their educational efforts. Many of the educators will, in turn, educate others (especially farmers and youth) about soil health and increase learner KASA (Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills, and Awareness) about the importance of soil health. This improved knowledge will, ultimately, lead to improved, soil-friendly farming practices thereby improving environmental quality, sustainability, and farm efficiency.