Education & Engagement

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To provide a platform for education and engagement, offering programs and stitching together efforts among different disciplines and communities.

Education & engagement is at the heart of everything we do. We aim to fulfill the needs and demands of the people who live and work in the city by providing services and support to professionals, higher education, lay people, students, and educators. The goal is the long-term benefit of retention of education within the community. This holistic approach, unlimited audience, and the wide range of education and outreach services is how USI bridges the knowledge gap that exists between urban soils and the communities that live and work with and within their setting.

We are an entity that is always growing in response to the needs of the people. If you have special requests or have ideas for partnerships please contact us. Below are the programs we offer now. We also have some in the works and will post those as they become available.

Soils vs. Soil

You may notice that we refer to soils in plural, rather than the more commonly and colloquially used “soil”. This is intentional, as soils are so unique and diverse from one another due to climate, parent material, location and other factors that simply calling them “soil” doesn’t do this amazing resource the justice it deserves. Join us at our educational events to learn exactly what makes soils so unique!

Workshops and Educational Programs

Scheduled soil workshops are offered at Governor’s Island. Check the calendar for updates.

On-site workshops are offered per request. Please contact us for details and to request a workshop. All workshops are interactive and hands-on.

Understanding Urban Soils: This workshop covers the fundamentals of soil science and the functions of our soils in the city.  

Interpreting Soils: This workshop explores the parameters and mechanisms in soils, leading to the understanding of test results. Special focus is given to soil contamination and remediation, as well as soil data and ethics.

Soil Survey: We offer NYC Soil Survey workshops to provide instruction and broadcast the existence and usefulness of this resource to a wide audience, including professionals, resource managers, educators of all levels, community gardeners, urban farmers, and anyone with an interest in soils of New York City.

In partnership with local, regional, national and international organizations, USI offers certificate and continuing education programs in soil science and its applications across art, culture, and ethics. USI’s education programs offer distinctive urban field and lab training necessary to become city-savvy soil technicians, pedologists, artists, conservationists, policy makers

Every Kid Outdoors 2019-2020 Partnership with the National Park Service for 4th Graders

NYC Urban Soils Institute, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) is offering educational workshops on urban soils for NYC 4th graders under the Every Kid Outdoors program. This workshop will consist of a field trip to Ecology Village in Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn (the living laboratory) where 4th graders will get an immersive experience in soils centered around local sense of place. It’s goal is to foster a love and awareness of the significance of the resource beneath our feet and to get acquainted with it one-on-one.  

What makes Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) different?

We’ve worked with the Department of Education to design a workshop curriculum that fulfills the educational requirements for 4th graders ( 4-ESS1-1, 4-ESS2-1,2,3,4 and 4-PS1-1). Our other workshops are prepared for attendees of all ages, and describe the basic functions of soils, with an emphasis on urban gardening and soil health. Every Kid Outdoors provides an interactive and immersive experience specially geared towards 4th graders and supplements their Earth and Environmental Science curriculum. We offer resources for teachers to conduct a pre-lesson before the field trip, and a post-lesson as follow-up to insure that students retain the exciting information they’ve learned about soils and the natural world, and allows this knowledge to be seamlessly incorporated.


Meet USI’s Art Extension Service© and Project:Soils© Initiative!

Art and Soils go together! Art provides another language for exploring science and translating it to a wider audience. Communication and dissemination become part of the scientific process. Working together, science and art provoke a more balanced and holistic approach to problems and solutions. Learn more about AES and Project:Soils and get involved here.

We are excited to announce that USI has partnered with Mary Mattingly and her initiative SWALE at Nolan Park in Governor’s Island. This summer, we are offering exciting programs, workshops, urban soil courses, soil testing, and opening the beginning phases of our Soil:Art© museum Soil𑁦ed©. Visit our calendar for open days and events.

Soil:Art© Museum – Soil𑁦ed©

This interactive installation of soil, soil art, soil philosophy, ethics, culture, and symbolism will be hosted at Governor’s Island. It will be a physical, and visual exploration into the depths of soils and their complexities; social, scientific, and artistic. Interactive installations will happen in phases as the museum grows. Stay tuned!

Urban Soils Symposia

The USI organizes an urban soils symposium annually.  Speakers are local and international and are from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. This symposium is designed as a platform for communicating and sharing information, and soliciting resource and research needs from all communities. The audience and speakers are equally important, therefore, the format provides interaction and discussion between presentations. Round-table workshops, poster session, soil art exhibits, and networking social events are all part of the symposium.

This year, we’ve taken our annual event to the next level with the Urban Soils Fest Weekend. Follow the link below to learn more!

Take Me There!