Iowa’s rich soil makes the state a leader in agricultural production. Soil health is a key factor in that productivity. Now teachers and other educators can learn about soil biology and how science can help manage soil health through a new graduate course offered by the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation.
IALF’s online course will offer two graduate credits from Drake University, Morningside College, Grand View University, or Viterbo University through AEA PD Online. The course, Biology of Soil, will run from March 2 to May 3. It will train teachers to apply STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts in their classrooms. The course is targeted toward middle and high school science teachers and ag teachers, but it is open to all teachers interested in the subject or interested in expanding their science base. The course is also being offered for teacher license renewal credit.
Soil health complex topic
“There is a lot of interest in soil health today, and soil health is a complicated topic,” says Will Fett, the course instructor. “Teachers will learn how soil affects nutrient cycling and how landowners can implement practices to improve the soil microbiome. Iowa is a leader in growing crops like corn and soybeans, and to continue with that success means we have to protect our soil resources.”
The course is based on soil health and agriculture lessons developed through a partnership with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Conservation Districts of Iowa, says Fett, executive director of IALF. The course is being supported in part by Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP). The lessons are aligned to the Iowa Core Science Standards, as well as National Ag Literacy Outcomes. The course will address soil health, soil behaviors, issues of soil degradation, plants in soil, organic matter in soil, invertebrates, fungi, bacteria, soil biome, history of soils, the future of soils and careers in soil science.
Educators interested in signing up for the class can find the registration information in the AEA Professional Learning Registration System. Space is limited to the first 20 registrations. To learn more, visit iowaagliteracy.org and direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 515-331-4182.