Organizations create teaching tools to promote soil health

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) have published booklets for children ages 5 to 14 featuring word games, puzzles, drawing activities and other interactive elements as part of the 2015 International Year of Soils (IYS).

"Our collaboration with NACD helps us accomplish one of the main objectives of the IYS, which is to raise awareness about the profound importance of soil for human life," Mario Lubetkin, director of FAO's Office for Corporate Communication, said. "The materials produced will help FAO to educate the public about the crucial role soil plays in food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, essential ecosystem services, poverty alleviation and sustainable development."

The four educational booklets have been designed in different ways for beginners, intermediate students, not to mention advanced and young adult students - with an accompanying educator's guide for teachers.

"The 'DIG IT - Secrets of Soil' project -- developed by NACD in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Soil Science Society of America -- has been highly successful in reaching U.S. students to help them gain an appreciation for soil and the food and other products that come from it," NACD President Lee McDaniel said. "We are proud to partner with FAO to expand the reach of these quality educational resources across the globe."

First produced in English to complement the exhibit on soils at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the materials have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Arabic and Russian, and the content has been slightly adapted to suit the needs of different FAO member countries. All of the booklets are available for download on the FAO International Year of Soils website.

FAO is now collaborating with governments who wish to translate the materials into additional languages to be used in primary and secondary school curricula. Once finalized, all of the materials will be available online for free use by member countries, teachers and students.

Organizations in this story

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