Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts

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2024 Lebanon County Envirothon Soils Training

NRCS Soil Scientist John Chibirka leads students in a soil texture exercise at the 2024 Lebanon County Envirothon Soils Training.

Submitted by: Lebanon County Conservation District Watershed Specialist Katie Hollen

On March 20, 2024, approximately eighty students attended the Lebanon County Envirothon Soils Training. Middle and high school students participated from ELCO; the Lebanon, Northern Lebanon, and Palmyra school districts; Lebanon Christian Academy; and Myerstown Enrichment Center.

The Lebanon County Conservation District hosted the hands-on training at the Lebanon Expo Center. Soil Scientist John Chibirka (Berks) and Assistant State Conservationist Charlie Hanner (Lebanon) from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) were special guest instructors.

John began the morning with a presentation on soil forming factors, soil texture, soil horizons, and more. Students viewed a soil map of Pennsylvania and learned about the importance of understanding soil properties when making land-use decisions. They also learned about our state soil, Hazleton.

After the presentation, students used the soil textural triangle to classify different soil samples. John assisted the students as they practiced making ribbons with soil and estimating the amounts of sand, silt, and clay in each sample. He also showed them how to use Munsell Soil Color Books to determine the color of each soil sample. Charlie introduced students to topographic maps and led an exercise in which students used soil surveys to determine the soil types at their schools.