2018 - My New Year's ReSOILutions as National ECR Rep

Dear all,

Just before the New Year, on one of those mystically dim afternoons where the impatient dusk hijacks the sky, my family and I carried out what has become a festive tradition; an brisk hike through the fields of North Norfolk. In recent years, a thick impenetrable fog has rolled inland from the coast. The hedgerow sketched lightly in the distance would become a nebulous smear across the horizon and then it would become erased once and for all by this gaseous rubber. A late afternoon ramble would become a curious stroll across a blank canvas; a canvas of possibility. What better time for it, just before the New Year? Ahead of us were another twelve months of prospect and opportunity, of challenge and trial, of triumph and success! And then the fog clears, the New Year arrives and here we are stepping forwards down the track of 2018…

And a Happy New Year to you all! For me, this is an extra special year. I’m incredibly honoured to be your next National Early Career Representative for 2018/2019, but before we stroll on any further, let’s take a moment to signpost the excellent Ashley Gorman who, over the past two years, has been such a shining and proactive ambassador for the society. I remember the first time I met Ashley, on a sunlit bench in Reading over two years ago. I remember being so impressed by her keenness to get things done, her eager and passionate interest in others and her remarkable composure in the face of it all. Two athletes in a relay rarely run together for more than five or six seconds, before the baton is exchanged. I’ve had a fantastic opportunity, however, to shadow and learn from Ashley over these last four months and now the baton has been passed successfully on, I only hope that I can run with the same zest and zeal that she had. I’ll give it everything I’ve got.

In that spirit, let me make some New Year’s Resolutions or perhaps that should be ReSOILutions given that this is the British Society of Soil Science! So, four reSOILutions: an S, O, I and L…

‘S’ is for Society. That is, after all, what we are. Though we may be distanciated researchers, finely scattered over the country, and indeed across the world, we are all working towards one goal which is to enhance our collective understanding of soil. We know that soil functions better when aggregated, and so too does our society. I will work hard to bring us together, to create opportunities for us to impart our ideas, to convey our curiosities and to let us bond, not just as scientists, but as people. Sometimes, in the hurly burly of discrete research, we are not afforded these moments of union. I want to change that.

‘O’ is for Outside. No, I don’t want us to go outside more, although perhaps a ‘social trip’ is a neat idea. (Consider it noted). By ‘outside’ I want us to reach out beyond our labs and offices and continue to inspire another generation of soil scientists to join our society. This could mean a visit to your local school or college, outreach down the local allotment or an activity on Open Farm Sunday. Many of you are extremely proactive at this, and I want to offer as much support to you as I possibly can.

‘I’ is for Innovation. As I write, the postmen and women of the UK may well have posted their final Augers to you. (If you wish them to continue, please visit www.soils.org.uk/delivery). Nevertheless, the Society has become paperless and we now need to set up fresh, innovative, safe and secure online infrastructures. We have a Society Facebook and Twitter account, and this website is currently undergoing revampment, but the mere presence of these platforms doesn’t mean we can sit back contented. I am keen to think innovatively not just about the ways we communicate, but in other aspects of our year such as the ECR, and you’ll hear more about this shortly.

‘L’, finally, is for Listening and Learning. In Resolution, after the letter L, is U. You are at the very heart of my reSOILutions and indeed my final one is to listen and learn from you. I pledge not just to hear you, but to listen to you; not just to read your ideas, but to acknowledge them and take them further. I will make mistakes, and I won’t always get it right first time. But I am willing to listen and learn and be better the next time round. I think Soil Scientists call it trowel and error…

So, now we’ve mapped our course, the fog has cleared and the future looks exciting. Let’s carry on!

My very best wishes to you all,

Dan

Twitter: Please follow @DanEvansol

PS: Check out my short Welcome Video by going to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rw9s6OH1XR8