The Science of Soil: Understanding the Major

-[April Ulery] Most people who get jobs with the USDA or other federal agencies have to have a degree. They have to have a Bachelor of
Science degree or a Bachelor of Arts degree. And in order to get a degree, you
need to have gone through a whole program, a whole suite of interconnected
classes, science, and art classes, and math classes, and english. All of these things
come together to give you a big picture view of your program. -[Ella McKinney] You get to do so
much more with a four-year degree than a two-year. A two-year gives you the basics. The first two years of college you’re just getting the very basics of what you
need to know. But when you hit your junior year, that’s when it all starts
making sense, that’s when the classes are a lot more fun, and you understand why
you had to take the classes that you took before. -[April] Soil science courses are not
going to be offered every semester, and you really have to be ready to take the
ones that are offered when they’re available. So, that means you have to
really focus on your math, chemistry, physics, geology, some of those basic
sciences you need to have under your belt and ready to go. -[Ella] Every student should jump at the opportunity to do an internship or some kind of field
experience because that’s where you get to apply everything it is that you
learned in your classes. And you don’t really realize how much you know until you’re out there actually trying to use it. Currently our research out at white
sands involves the sequestration of carbon and the gypsum soils. We’re looking at those processes and specifically how microbes facilitate that. With carbon sequestration being the process by which we remove carbon from
the atmosphere and store it long term in soils in order to slow down climate
change. We’re also looking at trying to understand those processes so that we
can better understand the processes on other planets like Mars, because they
have found gypsum fields out on Mars. -[Steven Maestas] The great thing about the environmental science curriculum is that it’s over a diverse area of classes, so you’ll be
able to figure out exactly what you want to study and exactly what you want to do
in the workforce. And it’s not until you take those classes, until you’re able to
see exactly what you want to do. -[April] Every class has something valuable to offer you, every class, regardless of the major, regardless of the professor. -[Steven] Sometimes I
worried about microbiology. I never really liked the subject. I did not like taking the courses. But the good thing was I still got knowledge out of it, and it really helped me when we were taking water samples to keep safe
drinking water for the public. And we talked about chloroforms, and I was able to understand what the professionals were talking about. -[Joel Brown] At this point in my career,
I can honestly say that everything that I really learned as an undergraduate,
I’ve used. I took an undergraduate public speaking class, and that’s one of the
things that has benefited me the most because of the need to communicate
information about soils and about the environment to a wide variety of people. -[April] Even things like drawing and photography– I’ve seen a lot of my students use their
artistic skills to help communicate science concepts, and that’s been very
rewarding and very helpful. -[Michael Jasek] Sometimes there’s classes that you have to take you don’t understand why. I’m in X major, why do I have to learn about this. Trust your university. Liberal education is very important. It allows us to learn how to become learners. It prepares us to ask questions so that we can grow and become
professionals in a career that we choose. -[April] You aren’t going to get a job with one
class. This isn’t about a simple vocational program. This is about getting
a degree that then allows you to look at things from lots of different perspectives and answer questions from a scientific standpoint. -[Christina Chavez Kelley] Going to
university also teaches you how to be a leader, how to interact with teams, how to
get to know other people whether as professors, as staff, or as students. Students that interact with each other from different cultures have an
education that cannot be taught in the textbook. It is more than a two-way
street, it is multi-leveled, and it adds to the richness of your life.

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