CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Illinois recently filled a key staff position at their State Office facility in Champaign. It’s a new position — one his agency has never had before — and adding the position is truly a sign of the times for what’s happening in production agriculture.
“I am always happy to have additional staff, but I’m especially eager to tap into the technical skills and knowledge Dr. Zuber brings to our team,” Dozier explained.
As the new Soil Health Specialist, Stacy Zuber comes to the conservation agency from a position at the University of Missouri, but Illinois is her home — it’s where she grew up and where she went to college.
“What an opportunity to do what I love and to do it back here in Illinois,” Zuber says with a smile.
While NRCS has more than 84 years of experience reducing soil erosion on the land, the intricacies and science of soil biology are unfolding each day. “Growing interest and activity in this area demanded we have the best and brightest research professionals on our team,” Dozier said. “Stacy is from Illinois, so she knows these soils. We are excited to have her expertise and passion to increase our success and improve soils here on Illinois farms,” Dozier adds.
Zuber attended the University of Illinois, earning a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Crop Sciences. “My graduate school research projects focused on impacts on soil health following long-term extended crop rotation and no-till in Illinois soils. I conducted research projects during my post-doctoral experiences in Indiana and Missouri. In Indiana, we did on-farm research with Purdue University and the Conservation Cropping System Initiative to evaluate commercial soil health tests. In Missouri, I worked on a state-wide assessment of soil health indicators from farmers’ fields enrolled in a state cover crop cost-share program,” Zuber explains.
Zuber will be instrumental in providing soil health training and information to staff, conservation partners, and working with farmers on new research, field days, and experiments to improve organic matter levels, water infiltration rates, and soil productivity. “I am happy to be part of the NRCS team and to help farmers protect and improve Illinois soils,” Zuber said.
Dozier also recently filled the vacant State Resource Conservationist position. George Henshaw will oversee work and functions of the Ecological Sciences staff, which includes soil health and other technical specialists like biology, agronomy, forestry, and others. Working together, these skilled specialists make up his team that provide guidance and training essential to the science-based tools and conservation practices NRCS offers farmers and landowners every day. Henshaw most recently served as Assistant State Conservationist for Programs in Columbia, Missouri.
Welcome to Illinois and welcome to the many different conservation partners who work together across the state to serve farmers and production agriculture. To learn more about Illinois NRCS and soil health, visit www.il.nrcs.usda.gov.
— USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
For more articles out of Illinois, click here.