Soil Quality Project: Summer 2015

Amanda Pennino shares her love for soil creatures durig Heros for the Planet at Monroe Library

Currently I am senior at Oregon State University studying Soil Science with a minor in Horticulture. At this point, I have sat through countless classes and watched hours of presentations, which have been filed away in my mind, labeled “WILL USE LATER”. I have been educated by some of the brightest scientists and researchers and have learned to appreciate this side of science I never knew existed. By interning for Benton Soil and Water Conservation District I was able to take my compiled folder of soil knowledge and put it to use in ways I did not expect.

Loop Field Work to Reports
The Soil Quality Project allowed for me to get my hands dirty in the field by collecting samples in a dryland experiment, take compaction readings and cleaning roots for biomass data. This project allowed for me to also gain more laboratory experience by conducting procedures such as calculating active carbon, stable aggregate stability, and gravimetric moisture of soil samples. Taking this project one step further I was given the opportunity to then enter this data and compile reports that would then be given back to the farmers, which the soils had been collected from. By working to analyze the data, I was given a better understanding of what the data actually meant and was able to synthesize my own ideas of what was happing in these soils.

Beyond the Soil Quality Project
Beyond the work that specifically related to The Soil Quality Project, I was able to volunteer and participate in a variety of events that allowed me to network, learn, and even teach. Many of these opportunities included teaching at events for children such as Heroes for the Plant (Monroe, OR) where I taught young children about the importance of earthworms in soil. At Forest Camp (Sweet Home, OR) I was able to teach a slightly older crowd of students the importance and basics of soil, and how to interpret compacted soils and water movement through them. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing the look on someone’s face when a light bulb goes off, and they understand the science you are trying to convey to them. I myself was also able to learn by attending events such as the Stream Classification Workshop in Salem with the Soil and Water Conservation Society, a composting presentation at Linn Benton Community College in Albany, and a Cover Crop field day here in Corvallis. This internship has been all encompassing- stretching my mind to think, working my hands with samples, and lending out my services as a student.