Monroe County 4-H receives soil education grant

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4-H team members Jessica Reid, left, and Lori Koenick learn soil-painting from Susan Hoskins, senior Extension associate, Soil and Crop Sciences, at Cornell University.

The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County 4-H program received a grant from the Genesee Finger Lakes Chapter of the Air & Waste Management Association in honor of Earth Day 2020.

The purpose of the Earth Day Grant is to increase environmental education through projects that promote environmental awareness and consciousness, as well as the development of technical knowledge and skills, and sustainable environmental practices.

The Monroe County 4-H team will kick off “Soil Superpowers” to share the importance of soil. This project centers on soil painting to expose youth to art and STEM concepts, and the natural world around them.

“Soil Superpowers” debuted at 4-H programs this summer. It will be delivered to schools this fall with related soil-based lessons.

The project helps develop map-reading skills and the understanding of different soil types. It is offered to all grade levels and the lesson will be modified to be age-appropriate.

“Soil Superpowers” seeks to increase environmental awareness and consciousness. Youth learn how individual communities use science concepts to protect the natural environment while observing the connection between plants and animals.

Another goal is to increase technical knowledge, skills and sustainable environmental practices. Youth will learn to identify different types of soils, understand the processes involved in the formation of soils and observe the basic components of soil. They will know how to read soil surveys and NRCS maps regarding soil types, and analyze and interpret data from maps.

Monroe County 4-H first experienced soil painting through a workshop with professionals from Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell University. The team learned to show youth how to look at soils from a different perspective to help them distinguish different soil types and investigate soil properties while stimulating their creativity.

Monroe County 4-H will offer a virtual soil-painting workshop for families at 6 p.m. on Sept. 21. Visit for information.