Internship provides learning opportunity

By: Beth Ann Luedeker

David Bryant, a senior Plant and Soil Science student, spent his summer as a soil scientist intern  at the Lincoln, NE, Soil Survey Office. The internship included spending time working at the Kellogg Soil Survey Laboratory where he was introduced to each analytical section of the KSSL — Sample Processing, Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Physics.

David Bryant in the USDA soil lab.

An internship as a soil scientist with USDA was a valuable learning opportunity for David Bryant, a senior Plant and Soil Sciences major at TAMU.

David had the opportunity to observe analytical processes in progress and interact with KSSL technicians. He learned how soil characterization samples submitted by Soil Survey Offices are processed and analyzed, which links back to soil sampling and descriptions in the field and to the interpretation of soil data received from the KSSL.He also received hands-on experience crushing and processing soil samples collected by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) at a National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) site in Wisconsin.

A native of College Station, David always had an interest in natural sciences, but he had little experience with agriculture growing up.

“My first exposure to agriculture was when I started working at my friend, Joe Jeter’s farm,” David said. “I realized how little I knew about where my food comes. Looking into it, I discovered how impactful agriculture is in geopolitical, social and environmental realms, and I became eager to make a difference in the world through agriculture. Soil and climate are huge factors in plant development, so I chose plant and environmental soil science as my field of focus.”

The internship was an excellent opportunity for David to further his undergraduate education and to see some of the possibilities for agriculture in the future.

“I was really interested in the structure of the USDA’s systems,” David said. “They create incentives to practice sustainable farming and have a great reach in responsibility.”

David has one more semester at TAMU. He will spend some of that time doing research in the Geography department working on data from the National Soil Moisture Network under Dr. Brent McRoberts.

He will receive his Bachelor of Science degree in December, and is currently considering volunteering in Latin America for a year in the area of agricultural development. After that, David will apply to graduate school and pursue a higher degree.

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