Dear Home School Educators of Missouri:

We would like to invite your home school group to join a new citizen science project called MO DIRT - Missourians Doing Impact Research Together, which promotes STEM learning through new science education and outreach opportunities in Missouri. The goals of MO DIRT are two-fold: (1) to further educate citizens on the societal importance of healthy soils and (2) to recruit as many individuals as possible to examine the current properties of our state soils and how these are being influenced by land use and management, as well as microclimate and climate change (see attached brochure). This project is funded by the National Science Foundation under the federal EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) initiative. Called “The Missouri Transect”, this working group of scientists, educators and community advocates will be generating data and models to better understand how climate influences agricultural and native plant systems, and how Missouri communities are affected and respond to this phenomenon over the course of five years. The leading institution for The Missouri Transect is the University of Missouri-Columbia, which is collaborating with eight other academic institutions including the Donald Danforth Plant Center, the Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis University, Lincoln University, Washington University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, and the University of Missouri at Kansas City and St. Louis.

Currently, we are offering training to volunteer citizens (e.g. teachers, high school students, landowners, naturalists, youth groups, lifelong learners, etc.) who are interested in contributing to the research efforts through MO DIRT by conducting soil health surveys across the state of Missouri. The training takes about 3 hours, and participants receive instructions on how to measure various physical, chemical, and biological indicators of soil health such as soil temperature, moisture, respiration, nutrients, color, texture, etc. Participants interested in establishing their own survey site will receive a soil kit with a manual. The training as well as the kit and manual are free.

MO DIRT soil surveys are conducted by teenagers and adults, working as individuals or in small teams, in study sites of their choosing representative of habitats such as prairie, forest, croplands, pastures, etc. The sampling sites cover small land areas and evoke very minor disturbances. It is preferred that the sites are monitored monthly from February to November over the course of the study. The data generated from the soil surveys will provide baseline information to be shared through an open access on-line website. This electronic tool will allow participants to learn about data being deposited by others across the state, and how the data will be validated for use by scientists, as well as teachers for classroom learning, all for the endpoint of better tracking of how soil health is being affected across the state for long term prospects.

We hope you and other members of your group will seriously consider becoming part of a great team of citizen scientists who, with research scientists, will learn more about climate, plants, communities and our state’s natural resources. If you are interested in this initiative please contact us. We will coordinate training based on your location and availability. Please share this information with other citizens/groups who might be interested in this program. Visit our website (be activated soon) for more information (

Thank you for your time and interest. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


Terry Woodford-Thomas, Ph.D.
Driemeyer Director of Science Education and Outreach
The Missouri Transect Science Education and Outreach Coordinator
[email protected]

Sandra Arango-Caro, Ph.D.
Education Program Facilitator, MO DIRT
[email protected]

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
975 N. Warson Rd., St. Louis, MO 63132
Ph. 314.587.1412 | Fax. 314.587.1512