Is soil an important ingredient in your every day life?
The answer is yes, and here are a few reasons why:
- Last night you slept in a building built on soil.
- You drink water that flows through soil and is cleaned by the soil.
- You breathe air that comes partly from plants growing in the soil.
- You even wear clothes made from plants that grow in the soil.
Soils make our lives possible. We build on them, play on them, drive on them, eat food grown in or raised on them, take medicines from them, wear clothes we wouldn’t have without soils, drink water that wouldn’t be clean without soils, breathe air we wouldn’t have without the plants and trees growing in soils. The entire earth—every ecosystem, every living organism—is dependent upon soils.
A Few Facts about Soil
- Soil makes up the outermost layer of our planet.
- Topsoil is the most productive soil layer.
- Soil has varying amounts of organic matter (living and dead organisms), minerals and nutrients.
- Five tons of topsoil spread over an acre is only as thick as a dime.
- Natural processes can take more than 500 years to form one inch of topsoil.
- Soil scientists have identified over 70,000 kinds of soil in the United States.
- Soil is formed from rocks and decaying plants and animals.
- An average soil sample is 45 percent minerals, 25 percent water, 25 percent air and five percent organic matter.
- Different-sized mineral particles, such as sand, silt, and clay, give soil its texture.
- Fungi and bacteria help break down organic matter in the soil.
- Plant roots and lichens break up rocks which become part of new soil.
- Roots loosen the soil, allowing oxygen to penetrate. This benefits animals living in the soil.
- Roots hold soil together and help prevent erosion.
Information provided by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service and listed on the Environmental Protection Agency website at http://epa.gov/gmpo/edresources/soil.html<;/span>.
Soils Education Materials
NACD has been working with the Smithsonian and Soil Science Society of America in the development of soils materials to compliment the “Dig It! The Secrets of Soils” exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (http://www.forces.si.edu/soils/<;/span>). These materials can also be used in conjunction with 2009 NACD Stewardship Week, which is also themed “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil,” or in addition to your conservation education outreach projects and programs. The soils education materials were designed to teach students (K-8) as well as adults about the importance of soils in their everyday lives. The exhibit will be in Washington, D.C. until January 2010 and then will travel to ten cities around the United States through 2013.
Soil Materials Preview Flyer - Download a flyer of the “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil” materials.
NACD Marketplace - The "Dig It! The Secrets of Soil" education materials are available for to purchase at the NACD Marketplace.
2009 Soils Material Planning Sheet - A one-page overview of all the soils education materials available for purchase. Download the planning sheet and start planning your soil education order today!
2009 Soil Stewardship Week Page - For more than 50 years, NACD has sponsored "Stewardship Week", a national program to encourage Americans to focus on stewardship. The program relies on locally-led conservation districts sharing and promoting stewardship and conservation activities. Stewardship Week is officially celebrated from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in May. The theme for NACD’s 2009 Stewardship Program is “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil.”
Soils Educators Guide (1.2 MB, PDF) - This online interactive guide is full of great resource to use in a classroom or other educational programs. It contains activities, science standards that complement the Dig It! student booklets, literature connections, links to additional soils outreach materials and more. The printed educators guideis also available in quantities of ten from the NACD Marketplace.
Soil Activity Worksheets (linked below) - The K-7 soils education worksheets listed below complement the Dig It! student booklets or are great for use with soils outreach programs.
Soils Topic Book List (PDF) - Looking for books to read to students or add to your library collection? Download this list of books that will give students a better understanding of soils in their everyday life.
Fun Facts about Soil and Worms (PDF) - Use these fun and informative facts as part of an exhibit or question and answers with student or adults. This activity covers the importance of worms and our soil.
2009 NACD “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil” Poster Contest - Check with your local conservation district to see if they are sponsoring a local, area or state contest utilizing the DIG IT! The Secrets of Soil theme for a poster contest. Additional information can be found on our poster contest site.
Additional Soils Resources
Dig It! Logo and Soils Images - Several images that go along with the 2009 Stewardship theme,"Dig It! The Secrets of Soil," use on your website, promotions or publications.
Soil Science Society of America - This site contains soil lesson plans and more.
Scoop on Soil
This site has a variety of soil education information from USDA-NRCS and University of IL Exension including fundamental soil concepts, soil biology printer, soil quotes, a help stop soil erosion activity and more.
Dr. Dirt! - Great selection of hands on soil activities to share with students.
Soil Paint Recipe | PDF |
Soil Presentations - Keep the attention of the students and community members you are educating through these catchy presentations on soils!
Soil Texture Lesson - A soil texture lesson, a soil texture analysis experiment and an accompanying PowerPoint presentation are available from the Soil Science Society of America at https://www.soils.org/lessons/plans/lessons/texture.html<;/span>.
Soil Color Lesson - A soil color lesson, a soil crayons experiment and an accompanying PowerPoint presentation are available from the Soil Science Society of America at https://www.soils.org/lessons/plans/lessons/color.html<;/span>.
Is water important to your daily life? The answer is yes, and here is why: We use water each and every day. Some of the direct uses are cooking, cleaning and brushing our teeth. There are many indirect uses that sometimes we forget how much water is needed to produce items we use everyday. The food you eat each day relies on water and good soil to produce it. About 4,000 gallons of water are needed to grow one bushel of corn, 11,000 gallons to grow one bushel of wheat and about 135,000 gallons to grow one ton of alfalfa. It also takes 30,000 gallons of water for to manufacture 1 ton of finished steel to build the vehicles we drive.
Water is important to us each and every day, and we all must work together to take care of it.
A Few Facts about Water
- Of all water on earth, 97.5 percent is salt water, and of the remaining 2.5 percent fresh water, some 70 percent is frozen in the polar icecaps. The other 30 percent is mostly present as soil moisture or lies in underground aquifers. In the end, less than 1 percent of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007 percent of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human uses. It is found in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and in underground sources Water is the only substance found on earth in three forms solid, liquid, and gas.
- A person can live more than a month without food but only about a week, depending on conditions, without water.
- 66 percent of the human body is water; 75 percent of the human brain is water.
- The average American uses over 100 gallons of water per day; the average residence uses over 100,000 gallons during an entire year.
Water Education Materials
Activity Supplements (Activities in educators guide)
"Where’s the Groundwater" Vocabulary - A vocabulary list of groundwater-related words and definitions to supplement, Water Is Life Intermediate (Gr 2-3) activity "Where’s the Groundwater." | PDF |
Exhibit, Field Day and Classroom Activities (adaptable for all ages)
Healthy Water Hopscotch Activity - Participants in this printable activity learn about their own impacts on the quality of the water. This activity is great for field days, exhibits or school lesson plans.
Additional resources needed: 11”x17” paper for printing.
Additional Water Resources
Urban Water Garden Project - This project, courtesy of Northern Rhode Island Conservation District, has lessons and activities about rain gardens, teaching students what rain gardens are and how they can plant their very own.
Action Class Project on Water Outreach Information – This resource includes interactive sites, water games, videos and lesson plans, articles and quizzes compiled by students in the classes of Peggy Pennington, ACTION Teacher at the Nevada Middle School and Truman Elementary located in Nevada, Montana. The school works with the Vernon County SWCD, and they are past winners of the Lexus and Scholastic Environmental Challenge
Each day we read about the need for energy conservation and alternative energy sources. Energy plays a large role in our daily lives. We need energy to have electricity and run our automobiles. It even takes energy to make our bodies move. Conservation’s Power education materials explore these important topics and more. NACD’s education booklets and educators guide will assist you in your promotion of wise energy use and its importance to each person.
A Few Facts about Energy
- Almost one-fourth of the energy used in homes is used for lighting and appliances. Lighting is essential to a modern society. Lights have revolutionized the way we live, work, and play.
- America is a nation on the move. About 28 percent of the energy we use goes to transporting people and goods from one place to another.
- Gasoline is used mainly by cars, motorcycles, and light trucks; diesel is used mainly by heavier trucks, buses, and trains. Together, gasoline and diesel make up 86 percent of all the energy used in transportation.
- The first modern wind turbine was built in Vermont in the early 1940s.
- Wind farms currently produce enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 600,000 families in the United States.
- Almost half of the renewable energy produced in the United States comes from biomass sources, like wood and paper products.
- In Iowa and Wisconsin, biomass energy from landfills and dairy farms is being used to make electricity.
Information gathered from Energy Information Administration, the National Energy Education Development Project and Alliant Energy
Energy Education Materials
Energy Educators Guide (PDF) – Energy is an growing topic for education and outreach. This guide will assist in your planning for energy education outreach. Information for youth as well as adults. Provided are links to a variety of energy education material.
Educators Guide Addendum (PDF) – This addendum to the Energy Educator’s Guide includes additional links to energy information and energy efficient facts.
NACD Marketplace - NACD has developed student booklets our NACD Marketplace that cover many of the topics in the Energy Educators Guide as well as an activity sheet/placemats and more. Click here to browse the energy education materials available at the NACD Marketplace.
The activities listed below are for use in classrooms, field days and other outreach events.
Energy Squares - Developed by NEED, the National Energy Education Development Project (www.need.org), this project is suitable for grades K-1, this activity is also adaptable for grade 2-3, 4-12 and for adults.
Additional Energy Resources
The Basics on Renewable Energy - This November/December 2006 NACD News and Views feature story is all about renewable energy. It explores the different sources of renewable energy and its future potential as well as stories of districts who are working with renewable energy.
Homegrown Energy—America’s New Power Plants (2007) - The way we farm is rapidly changing rural America and agricultural policy must adapt to new social, economic and environmental forces. Leading the way are clean, renewable biofuels.