See more from this Session: 75 Years of the SSSA While Looking Toward the Future
Tuesday, October 18, 2011: 11:00 AM
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 214C, Concourse Level
Historically, the University of Missouri contributed significantly to the Soil Science Society of America. Six of the first 12 Presidents of the Soil Science Society of America began their scientific careers at the University of Missouri: Richard Bradfield, William A. Albrecht, Leonard D. Baver, C. Edmund Marshall, Frank L. Duley, and Hans Jenny. All these scientists were hired by Professor Merritt F. Miller, providing a strong soil science program in Missouri. The most significant work of Professor Miller was the development of methods for evaluating soil erosion and cropping systems for soil conservation. In 1915, R.W. McClure, an undergraduate student in soil science, and Professor Miller measured rainfall and runoff over a two-month period in the first soil erosion experiment in the U.S. These early Missouri data supported a request for funds for 10 soil erosion experiment stations from whose data the Universal Soil Loss Equation was developed. This example of creative work by an undergraduate student emphasizes the need to attract bright individuals to pursue careers in soil science to solve the significant challenges facing future generations. The current issue of insufficient enrollment in undergraduate programs has prompted many institutions of higher education to discontinue soil science offerings, a major challenge affecting the future of soil science. A recent case study details the addition of an environmental science program within a traditional soil science department. The effect of this offering has been to increase undergraduate departmental majors by approximately 45 to 50, with increases in incoming test scores. Participation by these students in soil science courses, soil judging activities, and other offerings has enhanced soil science and increased the number of undergraduates pursuing careers related to soil science. Attracting bright young people to pursue studies in environmental sciences related to soils will ensure a bright future for soil science.