Learning About Soils & Ag Careers

Posted: November 11, 2022

Understanding soils and exploring agricultural related careers was accomplished in one day of learning at the Conserv FS facility in Waterman.

Over 200 high school students from throughout Northern Illinois and their FFA advisers participated in this newly combined event for FFA members in Section 6 and 7. FS partnered with 19 FFA Chapters and the Facilitating Coordination in Agricultural Education (FCAE) staff for the Soil Contest and Career Day.

Dave Swigart, (center) FS General Manager, is pictured with Genoa-Kingston students at the Soil Contest and Career Day.

“This was an opportunity to learn real-life skills and expose students to careers, including a variety of ag careers at FS,” said Dave Swigart, General Manager of Conserv FS.

“We are hoping that students consider these careers as they see our facilities and talk to our employees. Here at FS, we have an array of jobs available for interested young people,” explained Swigart.

FS team members discussed their jobs in agronomy, liquid and dry fertilizer, energy, and turf divisions as students rotated between six career stations.

The Conserv staff coordinated the day with FCAE and FFA instructors.

Jim Coens and Bryant Fairley with the turf division of FS, explain jobs available involving turf products and sales. Students were interested in hearing that FS provides turf products and services for Wrigley Field.

DeKalb County Farm Bureau also had a stake in the day as the event was considered the county’s FFA Acquaintance Day, for showcasing ag careers and qualifying FFA chapters for Farm Bureau’s Youth Conference.

Lynn Hoffman with Conserv FS explains the dry fertilizer business and career opportunities at FS. He gave students a tour of the new dry fertilizer building in Waterman.

The Soils Contest involved students evaluating six different soil pits which were dug at the FS site. The contest is part of the FFA Career Development Event for students to determine organic matter content, soil texture and structure, and permeability. The FFA members also calculate a soil loss equation that predicts erosion factors and recommends crop rotation. Another aspect is to make home-site and septic recommendations based on soil factors at the six soil pits.

FFA students survey soils in pits located at Conserv FS in Waterman.

“The Soils Contest was fun,” said Natalie Wilkening, Hinckley-Big Rock FFA member. “It’s fun naming all of the soil layers and it helps you interact with more people outside of your FFA Chapter.”

The Soils Contest and Careers Day event involved over 250 people at the FS facility on Sept. 30.