July 11, 2008

California Soil to Be Included in New Natural History Exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution


Contact: Anita Brown of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, +1-530-792-5644

DAVIS, Calif.,July 11/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California State soil, the San Joaquin Series, will be among those included in a historic new exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The exhibition, entitled Dig It! The Secrets of Soil, opens July 19, and will remain on display in the Nations Capital through Jan. 3, 2010. Thereafter, it will travel to 10 museums nationwide until 2013.

The exhibit will likely awe visitors with seemingly improbable facts on this underfoot resource. The abundance of life in soil is one such example. It turns out there are more living creatures in a shovel-full of soil than there are human beings on the planet; so many organisms contribute to the health of soil that scientists have not even named them all. Yet, the exhibit tells us, more is known about the dark side of the moon than about soil.

Sue Southard, a California soil scientist with the USDAs Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) who has been part of the 11- member design team for the past four years, will be at the Washington, D.C. opening ceremony. "Visitors to the exhibit will walk away with a new appreciation of the integral role soils play in our daily lives, she says. Southard is currently serving as the NRCS soil scientist National Liaison to the National Park Service.

The exhibit aims to improve soil literacy with a 5,000-square- foot exhibition revealing the complex soil ecosystem and how it supports nearly every form of life on Earth. The exhibit includes interactive displays, hands-on models, videos and soil samples.

Budding detectives are likely to enjoy the crime scene investigation video focusing on the processes of decay, while a computer kiosk allows visitors to learn about their state soil.

The California state soil, the San Joaquin series, will be displayed at the exhibit along with 53 other designated state and territory soils. The San Joaquin soil, found in the Central Valley of California, represents just one of the thousands of soils identified and mapped in California as part of the National Cooperative Soil Survey lead by NRCS. Dig It! shows the public how every type of soil is unique.

For more information about the traveling exhibition, visit http:/ /www.sites.si.edu/soils. Additional information about Dig It! The Secrets of Soil is available at http://forces.si.edu/soils. The National Museum of Natural History is located at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. in Washington, D.C. Admission is free.

SOURCE Natural Resources Conservation Service

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