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Training Team

Main photo for the Training Team.Overview

The Training Focus Team is a multidisciplinary coalition formed to address training needs within the Soil and Plant Science Division (SPSD). It is the responsibility of the Training Focus Team to review current training offerings, make recommendations on new and improved courses and means of delivery, and to expand training efforts outward from the Division to NRCS and partners, as needed. The core goal of the Training Focus Team is to create and maintain comprehensive training plans for all disciplines within the Division. The Focus Team serves as an advisory panel for the SPSD Training Coordinator. It is also our goal to include intra- and inter-agency partners (e.g., State Soil Scientists, Resource Soil Scientists, Area Conservationists and University professors, federal partners) to broaden the scope of training opportunities and to provide feedback.

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  • Maintain and update training curricula for all career trajectories within the SPSD.
  • Receive and review proposals for new or modified training opportunities.
  • Review existing courses to identify information/training gaps and to incorporate training to meet evolving needs.
  • Work with NCSS partners to provide guidance and advise on training priority areas.
  • Advise SPSD Training Coordinator on individual course development to fit within training curricula.
  • Advise SPSD Training Coordinator on development of web-based courses.
  • Pursue the possibility and identify likely sources of distance education for division staff to obtain advanced degrees in their specialty areas.
  • Coordinate to extend training opportunities to other entities (states, centers, NCSS Partners) and to incorporate their training opportunities into curricula when possible.
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Co-Leads: Luis Hernandez (Northeast Region, Amherst, MA), Kevin Norwood (Central Region, Indianapolis, IN), Cynthia Stiles (Southwest Region, Davis, CA)

Core Members: Ben Hannibal (National Headquarters, Washington, DC), Kendra Moseley (Southwest Region, Davis, CA), Russ Almaraz (Southwest Region, Davis, CA), Samantha Carrillo (Tucson, AZ)

Ad Hoc Members: Suzanne Kienast-Brown (NSSC, Bozeman, MT), Joseph Brennan (North Central Region, St. Paul, MN), Lance Brewington (Laurens, SC), Johanna Pate (CNTSC, Fort Worth, TX)

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Ecological Specialist Team: Responsible for reviewing training, maintaining/modifying a specialist curriculum and identifying core courses for personnel involved in Ecological Sites data collection.

GIS Specialist Team: Responsible for reviewing training, maintaining/ modifying a specialist curriculum and identifying core courses for GIS Specialists and others who utilize GIS as part of their daily work.

Soil Scientist Team: Responsible for reviewing training, maintaining/ modifying a specialist curriculum and identifying core courses for Soil Scientists, including both MLRA and Resource Soil Scientist tracks.

Administrative Specialist Team: Responsible for reviewing training, maintaining/modifying a specialist curriculum and identifying core courses for administrative specialists, including Administrative Assistant and Management Analyst tracks.

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Developed a proposal process for ideas to be brought forward and facilitated by the team – four proposals processed to date.

Completed a review of all existing courses (including retired courses) for application into new curricula and potential revision to include updated materials.

Completed a thorough review and vetting of Specialist Curricula course lists, incorporating suggested changes and additions from external reviewers.

Developed a list of immediately available virtual resources for training in collaboration with SPSD Training Coordinator: Immediately Available Virtual Resources for Training (PDF; 202 KB).

Compiled and released curricula for each specialist area within the Soil and Plant Science Division to all NHQ staff, regional directors, and state soil scientists.

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Proposed Activities for FY20

  • Develop and release revised Training Curricula to incorporate approved proposal additions/modifications, including training needs requested from:
    — Digital Soil Mapping Focus Team
    — Coastal Zone Soil Survey Focus Team
    — Soil Information National Leader
  • Assist identifying key core training cadre members for each SPSD course.
  • Improve visibility/accessibility for Focus Team website.
  • Assist with delivery of technical training to NCSS cooperators.
  • Provide updated timeline for new/updated course development, including milestones for proposal, development stages, strategic planning, rollout, delivery and follow-up.
  • Continue with proposed changes for fundamental field-based SPSD courses: Basic Soil Survey, Soil Science Institute, Soil Geomorphology Institute.

Long Range Projects

  • Assist SPSD training coordinator in individual course development and/or modification to fit within training curriculum.
  • Assist in visualizing and development of web-based courses.
  • Assist with development and delivery of proposed Soil Survey Bootcamp.
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Contact if you are interested in serving on the Training Focus Team

Participants in Soil Correlation training apply NCSS guidelines to resolve soil survey problems that arise with classification and correlation of soils and ecological sites.