- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, technical assistance, workshop
The Ada Soil and Water Conservation District is seeking SARE Grant funding to further educate
Shawn Nield, State Soil Scientist of NRCS, and Josie Erskine, District Manager of Ada Soil &
Water Conservation District, on qualitative food web analysis. The Idaho NRCS recently
purchased six microscopes to be used in the field offices by district conservationists. At this point,
the Idaho NRCS staff lacks the knowledge of how these microscopes are used to analyze the food
web in the soil. Our goal is to seek training and education for these two individuals with the
intent they train NRCS employees, Conservation District employees and producers all around the
state. We have come to believe that the only true way to measure soil health is to be able to look
inside of it and see what organisms are present, their quantities, and how they are functioning. We
are requesting funding to have both Shawn and Josie receive training from Dr. Elaine Ingham and
become certified soil life consultants through her online course and on-site workshops. After Sean
and Josie receive the certification, they will hold qualitative soil analysis training sessions in the
six regions of Idaho. The goal of the project is that each of the six regions of Idaho will have
several conservationists that are trained on the microscopes, and can use these tools to promote
soil health and address resource and conservation concerns.
Project objectives from proposal:
The objective of the project is to build the understanding of soil and how it is functioning through
training and education. The advancement of soil science is incredible and NRCS employees need
to build their knowledge and have the necessary tools and training to help producers build soil and
understand how it functions.
1. Shawn Nield and Josie Erskine will receive training from Dr. Ingham. They will attend 45
online courses, a 2 day training workshop, and complete certification. This will take
approximately 6 months.
2. Shawn and Josie will set up multi-day initial workshops across the state of Idaho to train
NRCS employees, Conservation District employees and farmers and ranchers on how to
use the microscopes and how the knowledge can be applied in the field. This will begin
after certification. Idaho NRCS has six regional offices and all district conservationists will
be trained on the microscopes.
3. Shawn and Josie will have follow up training and workshops for employees but will also
hold workshops for producers and educators within the state. The knowledge learned will
be shared for years to come.