Since 2010 a team of soil scientists led by Matthew Wallenstein (NREL), John Moore (NREL and ESS), Francesca Cotrufo (Soil and Crop Sciences), Gene Kelly (Soil and Crop Sciences), Joe Von Fischer (Biology), Diana Wall (SOGES and NREL), Mary Stromberger (Soil and Crop Sciences), and Thomas Borch (Soil and Crop Sciences), has been educating adults on soil ecology. This annual 2-week summer course draws roughly 24 soil professionals, graduate students, and K-12 teachers from across the globe to the CSU campus and various Colorado Front Range field sites. This unique field, lab, and lecture experience connects people who are interested in sharing what they already know, are wanting to learn more, and those who are (or are becoming) experts in this field.
The Summer Soil Institute focuses on aspects of soil ecology, as well as soil pedology, soil chemistry, isotopes, soil organic carbon dynamics, and microbial physiology and enzymes. The course takes a hands on approach to learning, engaging scientists and students together in outdoor field experiences at the Shortgrass Steppe LTER and Niwot Ridge LTER where samples are collected and hypotheses are made. Demonstrations using state-of-the-art equipment are used to teach effective research techniques.
Back in the labs, students analyze soils and data, then draw conclusions and present their findings at the Pingree Park Mountain campus. In addition, students learn content from soil scientists in lectures and in turn teach scientists about the projects they are conducting at their home institutions. In short, participants are immersed in a curriculum that inspires, motivates, and supports their interests in soil ecology.
For more information and to register for the 2014 Summer Soil Institute, visit http://soilinstitute.nrel.colostate.edu.