I just did a quick search for soil science blogs. Only one came up in my search. This only reminded me that in current science, soil is often forgotten about, and less than sexy. Student numbers are dwindling as catch-phrases such as 'climate change' and 'food and shortages' are thrown about. Realistically, soil science are still parts of these problems. Caring for our soil = good food, clean water and plenty of Carbon sequestration. How do we get students back in the field and playing with mud?
A few of us soilies (as we like to call ourselves) were joking in the lab about a pin-up calender for soil science. Girls in lab coats and heels, hair blowing in the wind. Men would be digging holes, bare chested, sweat dripping over their ripped torso. In reality, it is more likely that the girls will be in ripped, acid-soaked, red stained jeans with an equally revolting t-shirt, and the men will be 50 years +. Is it the image of soil science that is causing the problem? What is the image of (soil) science to youth?
We forget that (soil) science is not glamorous. Once upon a time, science was an elite field. Good money, well respected, could go into space, hot chicks etc etc. Today, science is that boring stuff about numbers and shite. Modern youth feed on excitement and 'radness'. By being keen on something, they need to know that they will have the opportunity to show their 'awesomeness' and be working on an important cause (like climate change). Is soil science rad? When we look up soil science up on the inertnet, what does it show us?
Interesting and 'sexy' soil science is difficult to find on the internet. There is plenty of information on soil science. Terms, what it is, wiki, associations, boring stuff etc. All the numbers and dots that young people don't care about. They want to know how many chicks it will score them, what the pay brackets are, how it will save the world and that they can do it all in time for an episode of Scrubs. What makes soil science interesting? Searching for 'interesting soil science' through Google only gave me similar results. This was clearly demonstrated by the lack of blogs. Further reinforced by no chat rooms. No campaigns. No hot chicks in lab coats.
Soil science is dead to modern youth and regaining its existence means making it more appealing for this generation. For modern youth if it ain't on the web, or all over the media, who the frak has heard of it anyway? And why should they waste their time thinking or talking about it with friends? Clearly it isn't cool enough if it isn't on the internet or being blasted all over TV. What youth learn on the internet will shape who they are. Young people have a strong affinity with the internet, and are more likely to Google than pick up a book. In an article by Mechthild Maczewski, it was suggested that the internet is also a means of indentifing ones self. So, if we provide information in an interesting manner, shouldn't this improve our chances at making soil science look more appealing?
In a half-humourous manner, I suggested a 'hot-new-look' and getting some 'sex-appeal' for soil science at an annual meeting. Part of this would be making soil science more readily available on the internet in different forums and formats. Myself being the youngest in the room (by at least 20 years) got glared at for 2 seconds, and the topic changed. One part of the problem is the aging population of soil scientists and their lack of understanding of both the younger generations and technology. We are now faced with techno-youth who care about how awesome something is, and scientists that do not know how to use the internetwhatsit.
Modern youth and modern technology need to be considered in adressing the lack of (soil) science students. Brainwashing them using carefully created internet sources and getting them to realise how awesome (soil) science is through media is quite possibly one of the only ways in succeeding to gain more students and interest. Eliza Dresang suggests the need to harness the internet for such a use. Blogs = one way of making soil science more appealing and sexy to modern-techno, internet-feeding frenzy generations. Let this be the start!