Fall workshop focuses on soil and water

Over 20 teachers from around Ohio gathered at Highbanks Metro Park for an all-day workshop focused on soil and sustainability and water quality. These topics are part of the Ohio Corn & Wheat-sponsored Feed the World curriculum.

Tadd Nicholson, Executive Director of Ohio Corn & Wheat, greeted the teachers and explained the check-off funding that provides money for education and research. He emphasized the importance of students knowing about the many career opportunities related to agriculture and the role of agriculture in Ohio’s economy.

Gary Wilson, Ohio farmer and Ohio Small Grains board member, spent the day at the workshop, observing the activities and talking with the teachers about modern agriculture. Wilson is a fifth-generation farmer and was able to answer many questions for the teachers as well as provide current information about farming practices.

The first part of the day’s concentration was on soil and sustainability activities such as texture assessments and nutrient content, pH, and soil testing. The Soil your undies lesson piqued everyone’s interest as it involves measuring the biological activity of soil by burying a pair of cotton underwear as a microbial buffet. “My kids will LOVE this lesson!” many commented. A lawn chemical activity demonstrated the problem of over-fertilization by homeowners.

After lunch, the focus shifted to water quality. A stream simulation gave participants a chance to identify macro invertebrates and perform water quality tests. Then the group gathered at the Olentangy River to kick-seine, collect and identify specimens, and assess water quality on site.

Kent State graduate student Davida Pantuso works with pre-service teachers and said she really enjoyed the lawn chemical activity. “All the focus tends to be on farmers and the amount of chemicals going into our water system through their fertilizers, and very little attention is on the homeowners. I appreciated the different perspective on the water quality problems we’re having around Lake Erie—it’s something students can investigate.”

Our two-day summer workshop will cover these topics and more! Watch our newsletter and events page for more information.