Dec. 2, 2015
If I sat down and listed all the things I think about on a daily basis, I’m pretty sure that dirt probably wouldn’t make the top 100. Sure, it’s always underfoot, but it’s just something I take for granted. I might kick it off my shoes, try to vacuum it up, curse it when the dog brings it into the house, wash it off my hands or even dig in it to plant flowers, but it’s just not ever top of mind. It’s kind of just there.
I bet that my dad thinks about soil a bit more than me. Maybe not now when the air is cold, but during the summer when he plants his garden in the backyard. Even though I don’t have the green thumb he does, I do know that bad soil means bad yield of those cherry tomatoes I love so much.
Yet, even as I’m popping them into my mouth off the vine on a hot summer day, I don’t give the soil from which it came nearly enough credit. Let’s face it — good soil is literally the foundation for good food. And, since I do love good food (I basically ate my way through New York City last week, but that’s another story) I should probably give credit where credit is due — thanks, dirt.
Unfortunately, in many places around the world, good soil is never taken for granted because it’s a rarity. Without good soil, food production halts and food insecurity becomes a very real danger. This month caps off the International Year of Soils, declared by the UN General Assembly. The aim of the yearlong designation was to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions. Or, in other words, to get people like me to actually think about the importance of dirt.
Lisa Tiemann, assistant professor of soil biology, has dedicated her research and work to this important resource. She is working with farmers in Uganda to gather data on soil conditions and introduce sustainable agricultural practices. Watch the short video MSUTODAY FEATURE: Reviving the Land, Seeding the Future, to learn more about her work in this growing nation where fertile land is becoming scarce.
Christina Traister, an assistant professor of acting and movement, also isn’t afraid to get a little dirty. She teaches stage combat in the Department of Theatre and is one of only four female fight directors in the world certified by the Society of American Fight Directors. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Leading the Way in Stage Combat, to learn more about her teaching.
Microbiology and international relations senior Bradley Disbrow, was thinking about the ground before he even came to campus his freshman year – that is the unfamiliar ground he found himself on during his freshman seminar abroad. He says that placing oneself on unfamiliar ground and gaining new perspectives has been the connection tying his student experience together at MSU. Read his STUDENT VIEW: Unfamiliar Ground, to learn more about him.
Disbrow also says something I completely agree with. He says, “Being a Spartan means having a multitude of opportunities spread before you, with the ability to pursue any of them if you have will to do so.” How very true that is. Whether a student, faculty member or even a staff member, the opportunities are varied and plentiful at MSU. It does take a certain amount of will to take advantage of them. Who has the will and determination to dig in and change this world for the better? Spartans Will.
Photo by Kurt Stepnitz