Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists


Welcome to the

Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists


Virginia Tech Hosted the 2019 SE Region Collegiate Soil Judging Contest

The Virginia Tech team was not officially allowed to compete in the contest but the students went through the same practice and contest as the other schools and their score was higher than any other team.

The Virginia Tech soil judging team has once again qualified for the national championship contest in April 2020 hosted by Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio   ....More details and photos 

VA Tech International Soil Judging Champions!

Program Agenda & Links to each session

8:30-9:50 Welcome, Schedule, Merit and Zoom Overview
Introduction to Order 1 Soil Surveys - Use and Benefits
Dave Harper, NRCS

10:00–11:20 Making an Order 1 Soil Survey – 

11:30- 12:15 The Use of Soil Survey Data in Environmental Consulting - Michael Timpson

1:10-1:50 Recognition, Properties and Classification of Landslide Soils  – Nan Gray

2:00-2:50 Ecological Studies (Bog Turtles) Virginia Tech Bog Turtle Team & Topics:

-Dr. Carola Haas (Lab PI): Species introduction

-Dr. Jeff Feaga (Lab Alumni): Soil Conditions in Bog Turtle Wetlands

-Michael Holden (Current M.S. student): Assessing Changes in Bog Turtle Populations 

-Joe Buckwalter (Research Scientist): Bog Turtles and Grazing

-Joseph Barron (Current M.S. student): How Soil Conditions Influence Distribution of Endemic Fen Plants 

3:00-4:00 Order 1 Survey Example (field portion pre-recorded in Floyd County) 

               (VT: John Galbraith, Lee Daniels, Phillip Brown, Alexandra Schmidt, Chuck Nelson)


Order 1 Soil Surveys

October 21, 2020           8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
       Virtual Zoom Conference

 (Up to 6 CEU’s will be recorded by the online Merit System)

Registration Fee - $35

Tentative Program Agenda

8:30-9:50 Welcome, Schedule, Merit and Zoom Overview
                 Introduction to Order 1 Soil Surveys - Use and Benefits
                 –Dave Harper, NRCS

USDA-NRCS Virginia State Soil Scientist Dave Harper shares the past, present, and future of soil survey operations. Details on how surveys are conducted, compiled, and distributed and the impact of new technology such as LiDAR will be discussed.

9:50-10:00 Break

10:00–11:20 Making an Order 1 Soil Survey

Soil scientists have long recognized soil spatial and temporal variability. Soils maps show that there are many different soil delineations within an area.  Soil surveys were developed by the NRCS to provide soil and climatic information to land managers. Published surveys, available at NRCS county offices are generally Order 2. An Order 1 soil survey has a finer resolution than an Order 2.

                              John Galbraith, Virginia Tech
                              Mark Stolt, University of Rhode Island
                              Erik Severson, NC State University

10:20-11:30 Break

11:30- 12:15 The Use of Soil Survey Data in Environmental Consulting - Michael Timpson
The vast majority of soil assessments in environmental impact reviews can be accomplished using published county soil survey data from the NRCS.  Before the advent of STASGO and SSURGO data sets, soil assessments required the use of paper soil surveys and hand measurements of impact areas and manual tabulation of potential effects.  This approach was generally acceptable for localized project assessments, but was painstakingly slow and tedious for linear utility projects that might span multiple counties or multiple states.  The presentation will look at various approaches for making soil impact assessments with examples from a selection of linear utility projects.

12:15 -1:00 Lunch Break

1:00-1:10  Welcome, Schedule, Merit and Zoom Overview

1:10-1:50 Recognition, Properties and Classification of Landslide Soils 
                   – Nan Gray, Soil Works Inc

This presentation is an exploration the unique properties and classification, and rock and soil weathering, of landslide area soils. There will also be a bonus showcase of the symbiotic relationship with the 400 year old Keffer Oak tree and nearby landslide soils found on Soil Scientist Ray Weil’s farm.

1:50-2:00 Break

2:00-2:50 Ecological Studies (Bog Turtles) Dr. Carola Haas, VA Tech

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Virginia Tech graduate student Michael Holden discusses his research into Virginia bog turtle habitat and species decline. Michael will also share management methods to conserve this rare species in Floyd County at the site of the following Order 1 Survey Example.

Ecological Studies (Bog Turtles) Virginia Tech Bog Turtle Team & Topics:

-Dr. Carola Haas (Lab PI): Species introduction

-Dr. Jeff Feaga (Lab Alumni): Soil Conditions in Bog Turtle Wetlands

-Michael Holden (Current M.S. student): Assessing Changes in Bog Turtle Populations 

-Joe Buckwalter (Research Scientist): Bog Turtles and Grazing

-Joseph Barron (Current M.S. student): How Soil Conditions Influence Distribution of Endemic Fen Plants 

2:50-3 Break

3:00-4:00 Order 1 Survey Example (field portion pre-recorded in Floyd County)
               (VT: John Galbraith, Lee Daniels, Phillip Brown, Alexandra Schmidt, Chuck Nelson)

Join the VAPSS team on a virtual field trip to Floyd County, Virginia! An exploration of a local catena sequence, from a young flood plain soil to the summit, as well as characteristics and management implications of intermediate soils, will be showcased at 4 soil profile pits..

4:00 Q&A, Annual Meeting

Schedule times, topics, speakers subject to change.


Speaker Bios:

Dave Harper, NRCS - State Soil Scientist, State Resource Inventory Coordinator

John Galbraith - John received his B.S. and M.S. in Range and Wildlife Management at Texas Tech University, followed by a Ph.D. in Soil Science at Cornell in 1997. In between, he worked for ten years as a USDA-NRCS and university Soil Scientist in eight states, mapping one-half million acres of soil. He began working at Virginia Tech in 1999. John has been teaching about basic soils, soil genesis and classification and wetland science since 1990, and he coaches the soil judging team. His appointment is 60% teaching, 30% extension, and 10% research. He is also a Virginia Cooperative Extension Specialist, where he trains soil evaluators, nutrient management specialists, Master Gardeners, and extension agents.

Mark Stolt – Professor, University of Rhode Island, Research: Pedology and Soil-Environmental Science

Dr. Stolt’s interests are in the application of soil science to various environmental issues and problems. Examples include: the effects of land use change on the terrestrial and subtidal environments; relationships between tidal and riparian soils and water quality, restoration, and land management; the role of soils in the treatment of domestic wastewater; and the processes operating in hydric soils, subaqueous soils, and soils with aquic conditions. His research has focused micro and macro-morphology of carbon forms in riparian soils, variability in carbon storage among soil types varying by drainage classes, fate and transport of N and P in shallow-narrow drainfields, distribution of subaqueous soils in estuaries, and soil morphology-aquic condition relationships.
Ph.D., Virginia Tech, 1990

Eric Severson – North Carolina State University, Extension Associate, Wastewater Management Training Program Crop & Soil

Michael Timpson - Twenty-one years as an environmental consultant, providing expertise in soil science, geology, wetlands, and water resources for linear utility projects, utility projects, real estate development, and geoarchaeological research. The work included pre- and post-construction resource inventories, permitting and permit compliance monitoring, project management, and preparation of multiple environmental impact statements and environmental assessments. I received my B.S. in Natural Resources from the University of Rhode Island, an M.S. in Soil Science and geology from North Dakota State University, and my Doctorate from the University of Tennessee - Knoxville. I also conducted post-doctoral research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where I was part of a team investigating novel approaches to remediation of uranium-contaminated soils.

Nan Gray - General Practitioner of Soil Science for 32 years consulting in field mapping soils and landscapes for land uses such as conservation easements, road layout, fracture trace analysis, water well siting, shrink-swell clay problem solving, soil and geomorphic interpretations, agronomic practices, karst, wetland delineations, septic drainfield suitability and design, pond and dam material suitability, farming, erosion and sediment control, nutrient and pollution movement in soils.

Soil Works, Inc. is a Small, Woman and Minority (SWaM) owned business and is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) with Virginia Department of Transportation. We provide professional soil science services for a variety of land uses to the Private Sector and to Government Agencies.

MS, Agronomy, University of Illinois, BS, Chemistry, Wilmington College, Ohio, Licensed Professional Soil Scientist (LPSS) in Virginia and North Carolina, Alternative Onsite Soil Evaluator License (AOSE) in Virginia

Ecological Studies (Bog Turtles) Virginia Tech Bog Turtle Team & Topics:

-Dr. Carola Haas (Lab PI)

-Dr. Jeff Feaga (Lab Alumni)

-Michael Holden (Current M.S. student)

-Joe Buckwalter (Research Scientist)

-Joseph Barron (Current M.S. student)

W. Lee Daniels is the Thomas B. Hutcheson Professor of Environmental Soil Science at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.  He received his Ph.D. in Soil Science from VPI & SU in 1985.  Dr. Daniels areas of specialization include stabilization and restoration of disturbed lands including areas disturbed by mining, road building, waste disposal, urbanization and erosion.  In particular, he has focused his research and consulting experience in mine reclamation, wetland impact mitigation and soil-waste management systems.  His teaching programs at Virginia Tech focus on soil geomorphology and landscape analysis with particular emphasis on the relationships among surficial geology, hydrology, soil patterns and long‑term landscape evolution processes. Major awards include the Reclamation Researcher of the Year by the American Society for Surface Mining and Reclamation (ASMR) in 1993, USEPA’s National Biosolids Utilization Research Award  in 2000, the Lifetime Achievement in Research Award by ASMR in 2012, and Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America in 2016. Details on his research and outreach programs and publications are available at

Philip Brown – Assistant Professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, 100% extension. His extension program  focuses on the appropriate use, upkeep, and installation of septic systems.

Ph.D. Plant and Environmental Science, Clemson University, 2018

M.S. Plant and Environmental Science, Clemson University, 2004

BSc.(hons) Environmental Science, The University of Bradford (UK), 2001

Alexandra Schmidt – Videographer for onsite Field Trip Program - Soil Scientist at USDA-NRCS, Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Virginia Tech Master of Science – MS Crop and Soil Environmental Science 2017 – 2018
Delaware Valley University, Bachelor of Science - Environmental Science 2013 – 2017

David Hall – VAPSS President, Virginia Certified Professional Soil Scientist is a Virginia Licensed On Site Soil Evaluator and President, Project Manager, Soil and Environmental Technology (SETEC) Inc., Floyd VA

1991      M.S., VPI&SU - Soils - Biomass Research - compared biomass and root production of specific plant species to physical and chemical characteristics of differing soils, in order to match plant species with the soil that would give the highest yield, under intense management conditions. 1988 B.S., VPI&SU - Agronomy

Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientist 
2019 Strategic Plan

Reframed Objectives for Consideration and Strategic Work:

With consideration to the issues and goals identified in 2005 and the pursuant discussion of the 2019 strategic planning retreat, the facilitator suggested that there are three overarching objectives to consider at this time that warrant exploration and focus moving forward.  After securing agreement of the members present, these were listed as:

  1. Increase membership and enhance service/outreach
  2. Enhance effectiveness of VAPSS leadership and engagement/accountability with the board
  3. Scope/function of education and marketing entities

Attendees were divided into work groups and given planning worksheets to complete for these three objective areas to develop goal setting and related action items.  Summaries of this work can be found in a separate pdf file.

Copies of these summaries were also provided to Nan Gray and Jeff Miller for archiving and continued work with VAPSS members as they work to implement what has been identified as actionable.

It is recommended that VAPSS work internally to develop a targeted plan of work to accomplish their goals and think about their leadership (and sustainability plan), diversifying membership, partnering with other professional organizations, further identifying goals for offering educational resources, and proactively working to endorse the role of their profession with formal educational and legislative bodies.

Facilitator: Megan M. Seibel, Ph.D., Extension Specialist, Virginia Tech

April 28, 2019

Click Here for a complete copy of the Plan 

Comments or suggestions, contact

Nan Gray, VAPSS President

Dedicated to Wise Land Resources Use & Management
in the Commonwealth of Virginia 
Website Builder