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2017 Soil Health Conference – March 9, 2017

“The Soil Revolution – It’s More Than Just Dirt”

Hands inspecting soil from a pasture

Plaza Conference Center
1850 Industrial Cir
Longmont, CO

General conference questions? Email Adrian Card at or call 303-678-6383

Register button


$40 for one $70 for two use promo code: 2tickets

Early Registration closes March 5, 2017. $5 increase
March 6 – 7. Registration closes midnight March 7 .

Register on Eventbrite

Hotel room block at Best Western Hotel, 1900 Ken Pratt Blvd, Longmont, CO 80501
Call 303-776-2000 and request a room in the block name “The Soil Revolution Conference” for $109/night rate. This is less than 100 yards from the conference center, an easy walk through parking lots.

See our sponsors below.

Sponsorship includes exhibitor booth space PLUS additional promotion of your business. Become a sponsor online through registration or with mail-in form. Learn more. Sponsorship closes March 1.

Interested in EXHIBITOR SPACE?

Promote your products and/or services to a gathering of local farmers, ag professionals and interested public. Download the form. Questions about exhibitor space? Email Sylvia Hickenlooper at

Brought to you by:

Natural Resources Conservation Service logo

Boulder County Parks & Open Space logo

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Park logo

Colorado State University Extension logo

Longmont and Boulder Valley Conservation Districts logo
West Greeley Conservation District logo

“The Soil Revolution – It’s More Than Just Dirt”

Soil health is at the heart of agriculture no matter what you grow or raise. Join us March 9, 2017 at the Plaza Conference Center in Longmont, CO for the current science, indicators and benefits of soil health. Featured speakers include Rudy Garcia, Western Regional Soil Health Specialist NRCS, and Meagan Schipanski, Assist. Prof in the Dept of Soil and Crop Sciences, CSU. Content includes soil health demonstrations, presentations from scientists and farmers, and networking with participants and exhibitors.


Time Session Name Description
7:30 – 8:30 Breakfast Get some chow and caffeine in the Fairview room and visit
with exhibitors
8:30 – 8:40 Opening remarks Auditorium
8:40 – 9:30 Keynote Rudy Garcia and Clark Harshbarger tell and demonstrate what
is soil health, why it is important, and what are the indicators
9:30 – 10:00 Break with refreshments Visit with exhibitors in the Fairview room and hallway
10:00 – 11:00 Intro to the farmer panel Farmers are leading the exploration for soil health practices
in Colorado. Learn who they are, what they produce,and why they have taken the plunge into soil health practices. (Auditorium)Presentations:  Curt Sayles, Steve Tucker, Bruce Unruh, David Harold
11:10 – Noon Regional case studies Rudy Garcia and Meagan Schipanski offer case studies from the intermountain West showcasing how soil health works

Presentations: Rudy Garcia, Meagan Schipanski 

Noon – 1:15 Lunch
1:15 – 2:00 Local public sector work Vanessa McCracken and Sylvia Hickenlooper share their efforts
to foster and document soil health in Boulder County (view presentation)Presentations: Vanessa McCracken, Sylvia Hickenlooper
2:00 – 2:15 Break with refreshments Fairview
2:15 – 4:00 Shop talk with the farmer panel Now that you know who they are, learn how farmers implement soil health practices and the benefits they are seeing

Presentations:  Curt Sayles, Steve Tucker, Bruce Unruh, David Harold

4:00 – 5:00 Social hour Visit with exhibitors and presenters – cash bar and snacks


Rudy Garcia Rudy Garcia

In addition to training NRCS employees on soil health plans and implementation,
Rudy’s main focus in the past 5 years has been hosting more than 60 soil health workshops for farmers and ranchers throughout New
Mexico. These sessions have been attended by both large- and small-scale agricultural producers and are slowly creating a soil health movement in this arid southwestern environment that adds irrigation to the usual set of challenges facing those who choose to improve their land’s soil health.

Meagan Schipanski Meagan Schipanski

Meagan heads the Agroecology Research Group at Colorado State University, focusing on understanding how plant-soil interactions mediate carbon and nitrogen cycling and placing this research within broader social and economic contexts. The necessity of sustainably producing food has never been more evident as agriculture both contributes to and is impacted by many global change issues. In particular, increased climate variability requires the development of resilient, regionally adapted production systems.

Bruce Unruh Bruce Unruh

Colorado family’s farm operation and future…Rooted in ‘the Living, Breathing Soil’

Bruce Unruh understands, the soil is alive. And he’ll tell you that like all living things, the soil functions better when it’s healthy.

“It’s kind of like when we are sick, we don’t work as well. The soil is the same way. If something is off, it just doesn’t work,” he said.

David Harold David Harold

Business Sustainability Increased with Soil Health Building Principles

Healthy soil may produce quality food that consumers find desirable, but that’s not what drives David Harold’s passion for improving soil health.

“I do it because I like to do it, and I don’t really care if everybody knows why,” said the 35-year-old farmer from Olathe, Colorado.

Steve Tucker Steve Tucker

The transition of the farm to move away from the tried and true methods of tillage to a complete no-till system was not easy. Adding new technology comes with a steep learning curve. Making changes in the farming methods that existed some 70 years can be trying. Steve studied and experimented along with is grandfather to find methods that worked on the farm that only averages 14 inches of moisture a year. It didn’t take long to see that no-till farming practices were going to help increase efficiency, soil quality, reduce erosion and increase the bottom line on dryland as well as under irrigation.

Curtis Sayles Curtis Sayles

As a long time dryland no-tiller, I starting experiencing the weakness’s that any system will encounter. We were drawn to the soil health movement to solve no-till problems and reduce dependence on commercial chemicals and fertilizers. This journey has taken us to more diverse crops and crop rotations. Along the way we are seeing the promises of healthy soil starting to manifest in increased profits.

Sylvia Hickenlooper Sylvia Hickenlooper

Sylvia Hickenlooper is a Soil Conservationist with the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Services with the Longmont Field Office since 2008. Her main focus during this duration is to assist private landowners in addressing resource concerns and to assisting with the implementation of conservation practices on the ground. During the past four years she been involved with demonstrations to highlight forage production in response to grazing and how it affects soil health attributes.

Clark Harshbarger Clark Harshbarger

Clark Harshbarger, is a Resource Soil Scientist with the USDA-NRCS,in Greeley Colorado. His normal duties include supporting northeast CO with soil science data needs, onsite technical soil service assistance and soil outreach and education activities. He is also active in building partnerships with producers, partners and peers across his work area. Mr. Harshbarger has over 15 years of field experience with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and has worked all across the United States on soil classification, soil mapping (with an emphasis on geomorphic digital modeling), supervising, training and outreach. He is most passionate about soil health and educating producers on its importance and value to our society. He is a member of NRCS-CO Area 2 Soil Health team. In his spare time he enjoys singing and writing songs, playing soccer and enjoying time with his family outdoors.

Vanessa McCracken Vanessa McCracken

Vanessa grew up Northeastern Colorado and her family has been involved in local agriculture for generations. She has a deep passion and appreciation for agriculture and the people who dedicate their lives to feeding the world. Vanessa earned a BS in Soil and Crop Science from CSU and an MS in Agronomy from Iowa State University.

As an Agricultural Resource Specialist for Boulder County Parks & Open Space, Vanessa helps implement various aspects of the Cropland Policy including the Integrated Pest Management Program, pollinator protection and soil health monitoring. She is passionate about working with our land steward and partner tenants to continue the agricultural heritage in Boulder County and be a part of soil health paradigm shifts guiding future land management.

Outside the office, Vanessa spends most of her time raising her three children with her husband of 16 years.


Thanks to our sponsors for helping make this conference possible! Please click on their logo and explore their websites.


Boulder County Parks & Open Space logoWestern SARE logo












City of Boulder logoCity of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks logoColorado State University Extension logoLongmont Open Space logo