The Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District (in Indiana) planned to launch a new educational initiative. They wanted to reach consumers with info about healthy soils, farmers’ conservation strategies, and how soil health relates to the consumers’ lives. They also wanted to encourage more farmers to adopt conservation strategies.
The soil conservation displays needed to reach consumers who don’t know anything about soil health. They also needed to reach farmers who know plenty about soil health, but might not be ready to try new conservation strategies.
We created three info panels and an interactive/visual element to go with each. The first board, titled “What is soil?”, explores what soils do for their ecosystems. Below the board, a detachable box holds three mini soil sampling cores. Consumers can lift each core to see an (artificial) sample of three types of soil.
The next display asks “How does soil health affect me?” It gives consumers the basics of how healthy soil supports nutritious food and clean water. The display also introduces several of Allen County SWCD’s farmer-advocates for conservation. A monitor below the panel plays video interviews with the farmer-advocates. Consumers get to hear directly from farmers about their conservation efforts, while farmers get to hear their peers explain what strategies have benefitted them.
The third panel answers the question, “How can soil be healthy?” It suggests five strategies for improving soil health. Some of them apply only to farmers, and others apply to both farmers and consumers. The extra element for this display focuses on cover crops (one of the soil conservation strategies). We created six artificial plant models representing different cover crops, from cereal rye to oilseed radishes. Each model shows both the leaves and the roots.
Because Allen County SWCD intended to use these displays in an exhibit trailer, we engineered flexible display solutions for them. The panels have strips of velcro on the back, so they can attach to the standup display frame. But they can just as easily attach to a station in the trailer instead.