On November 13, 2013, twelve students from Project Grow gathered at Aamodt’s Apple Orchard in Stillwater, Minnesota. Project Grow connects Hmong youth to natural resources, conservation and leadership through participation in afterschool activities. Project Grow was made possible through a partnership between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Hmong American Partnership (HAP).
This field trip was planned so that the students could learn more about why soil is as critical to human life as water and air. Michael Whited, Senior Soil Scientist with the NRCS in St. Paul, used the pertinent apple as planet earth analogy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mA78nPn41F4) to show students how humans survive on a thin soil skin, the “ecstatic skin of the earth”. The students learned about the importance of soil Carbon and how C content is reflected in soil color. For example, new soil material deposited by erosion is typically lighter in color while an older soil is darker. The students were shown an “inverted” soil profile with the darker C rich former surface A horizon soil buried by newer, lighter colored sediment. This led to conversations about soil health, soil erosion and conservation.
The students also learned more about the Apple farming operation and how this operation has played a role in the Stillwater community. Following the field trip the students enjoyed sampling some apples, cider and apple brats! A special thank you to Tou Pha, Michael Whited and John Xiong for their role in planning the Project Grow field trip. For additional information regarding NRCS’ role in Project Grow, please contact John Xiong at 651-602-7863.