Monthly Themes

SSSA developed 12 monthly themes that reflect the diverse value of soils to our natural environment and society. Each month has information on the theme, a lesson plan, and other outreach activities. Click on the month below to see the activities created and links to activities from other websites.

Want to have a celebration? See our monthly-themed Soil Desserts!

January - Soils sustain life
We all depend on 4 basic things - food, clothing, shelter and water – and they are all related to a single, often overlooked resource: Soil!  Soils are complex mixtures of minerals, water, air, organic matter, and countless organisms that are the decaying remains of once-living things. It forms at the surface of land – it is the “skin of the earth.” Soil supports plant life and is vital to life on earth.

July - Soils are living
Soil is alive. There are more species of organisms in the soil than there are aboveground. These organisms include everything from badgers and gophers to bacteria and viruses that are invisible to the naked eye. A single handful of soil contains millions of individual living organisms.

February - Soils support urban living
Every bit of earth is covered in soil; some is just covered up.  In the urban environment, the soil under buildings determined what can be built on it.  Soil also supports home and community gardens, parks, recreational areas, and nature areas. Soil also protects us through filtering water and large amounts of rain.

August - Soils and health
Soil stabilizes the environment so that the healthy living conditions we know today can continue. It cleans our water and protects us from environmental pollutants. And, it provides the nutrition and water plants need to become our food, shelter, or medicine.

March - Soils support agriculture
Healthy soil results in a more stable food supply, which results in a strong community. Farmers use many practices and technologies, including precise applications of fertilizer and irrigation, to ensure that soil is conserved for sustainable food production and a healthy environment.

September - Soils support the natural environment
There are many climates around the world and the soils in each of these are as different as the varying ecosystems.  Soil is part of all of them and will have different microorganism and plant communities which in turn supports different animal communities.

April - Soils clean and capture water
Soil plays an important role in capturing and cleaning water.  Soil texture, structure, and land coverings all have roles in determining how easily water will move through the soil to filter, store, and distribute water to reduce runoff and flooding.  The work of cleaning water is done by physical, chemical, and biological processes.  Healthy soils are critical to ensure clean water for recreation, consumption, crop production, and more.

October - Soils and the products we use
Soil provides many services and many products. For example, the plants that are grown in soil can be used for food, clothing, recreation, aesthetics, building materials, medicines, and more. And, the minerals that make up soil particles can be used for dyes, make-ups, and medicines, or shaped into bricks, plates, and vases.

May - Soils support buildings and infrastructure
While a leaning building or a cracked foundation seems inconvenient, lack of soils knowledge can also result in catastrophic structural failures. There is soil under buildings and understanding soil and its properties is important in deciding where different types of structures can be built.

November - Soils and climate change
Climate has an important role in soil formation. Soil profiles can give us clues to past climates and weather cycles. And, soil is an important part of the global carbon cycle. Different land management practices result in different amounts of carbon being released to the atmosphere. Understanding this may allow us to manage for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from soil and therefore manage soil’s effect on climate.

June - Soils support recreation
Like building sandcastles? Sand is a component of soil. Like playing soccer or baseball? Athletic fields, with natural grass surfaces, need healthy soils to support the grasses that support recreation. And, soil is important for golf courses, festival grounds, walking trails, forests, and any outdoor recreational area. 

December - Soils and culture
Clues within soil can be a guide to what has happened in history. Clues within art and literature can be a guide to how societies have viewed soil. Evidence indicates that soil has been important in deciding the success or failure of many societies through agricultural sustainability and events such as battles or political changes. Soil and people are bound to each other. If we care for the soil, the soil will care for us.