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Accolades in Spades

Recognizing soil and plant science professionals.

2024 National Cooperative Soil Survey Awardees

In 1999, the Soil Survey Division (now the Soil and Plant Science Division) created two awards to recognize scientists involved in the Soil Survey Program. In 2005, the NCSS Cooperator Achievement award was added. In 2019, the criteria for two awards, the NCSS Scientist of the Year and the NCSS Career Achievement awards, were expanded to include both technical soil and ecological site services and project soil and ecological site survey work. Nominations for awards are accepted from any individual, agency, or group in the NCSS.

Headshot of Stephanie Connolly.

Cooperator Achievement Award

Soil Water Balance Initiative U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Collaborators

Team Leader: Stephanie Connolly, Forest Soil Scientist Liaison, USFS Northern Research Station

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Greg Taylor wears a red life jacket and drives an airboat through marshy water.

Career Achievement Award

Greg Taylor, USDA NRCS, Senior Soil Scientists for Special Projects

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Headshot of Kirt Walstad.

Scientist of the Year

Kirt Walstad, USDA NRCS, Regional Ecological Site Specialist, Northwest Soil Survey Region

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Team of the Quarter

Members of the Coastal Zone Soil Survey

Photo of Rob Tunstead.
Photo of Rob Tunstead.
Photo of Reuben Wilson, Austin Price, Jordan Kim (left to right).
Photo of Reuben Wilson, Austin Price, and Jordan Kim (left to right).

The Soil and Plant Science Division would like to recognize members of the Coastal Zone Soil Survey as the Team of the Quarter for going above and beyond in field work and TSS assistance. Rob Tunstead, Reuben Wilson, Austin Price, and Jordan Kim deserve commendations for their efforts to map coastal soils in multiple areas.

In their nominators’ words:

“Going above and beyond in seeing to the completion of field work associated with Banana River Lagoon, Lake Mattamuskeet, and West Galveston Bay CZSS projects.  Austin, Reuben, and Jordan are further commended for their work to promote SPSD and expand our customer base by conducting a TSS-related soil survey of Sherman Creek Park in NY City as part of request from the New York Restoration Project, a nonprofit organization focused on renovating gardens, restoring parks, planting trees, and promoting urban agriculture in the five boroughs across New York City.”

Join us in congratulating Rob, Reuben, Austin and Jordan!

Dynamic Soils Hub Team Receives FPAC Business Center Chief Operating Officer’s Award for FY-2023

The Dynamic Soils Hub Team, consisting of Jason Nemecek, Adolfo Diaz, Chad Ferguson, Andy Paolucci, and Laura Morton, along with the Dynamic Soils Hub Development Team, consisting of mostly Ventura (contracting company) employees, recently received an FPAC Business Center Chief Operating Officer’s (COO) Award for FY-2023. The COO Awards recognize significant accomplishments towards USDA’s goals and objectives.

The DS Hub was recognized for developing a tool for conservation planners called the Nutrient Sensitive Areas Analysis – Soil Sensitivity (Nutrient Runoff) pre-planning tool. This model provides a science-based methodology, a tool and visualization for the conservationists to use with clients in Conservation Desktop. Conservationists can use this pre-planning tool and map to assist clients with a plan to reduce nutrient runoff from their operations. Conservation planners will be able to select practices and fields to run the sensitivity analysis to help with planning alternatives. The sensitivity analysis results will be stored for future use within the CART assessment and ranking process. The Conservation Products module will retrieve the results and develop a map and report to provide the client with information for planning practices on their operation.

The team reached a major milestone in FY23 by processing their first model in support of NRCS conservation planning. This tool and model were critical for the alpha release and testing of the functionality in the DS Hub while providing value to USDA for a critical priority and supporting NRCS’ nutrient loss action plan.

The DS Hub will ramp up beta testing in FY24 to support USDA on various climate and Inflation Reduction Act initiatives.

Special thanks to Eric Hesketh, Joe Bagdon, Tim Pilkowski, Aaron Lauster, and Travis Rome who helped contribute to this success.

This NRCS partnership included:

  • Water Quality and Quantity Technology Development Team (West National Technology Support Center, Science and Technology Deputy Area)
  • Conservation Information Delivery Section in the Soil and Plant Science Division (Soil Services and Information, Soil Science and Resource Assessment Deputy Area) 
  • Conservation Planning and Technical Assistance Division (Programs Deputy Area)

Congratulations to SPSD’s award-winning DS Hub Team for their efforts!

Photo of Charles Kome.

Global Soil Partnership

Soil Scientist Kome Represents USDA NRCS at the 11th Plenary Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership in Rome, Italy

Since its creation, the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) has become an important partnership where global soil issues are discussed and addressed by multiple stakeholders. Key outputs demonstrate that the partnership was needed to fill an existing gap in the promotion of sustainable soil management globally. It was a great honor and privilege for Kome to attend the 11th Plenary Assembly of the GSP in Rome July 12-14, 2023 as Rapporteur. Read more ...

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