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Environmental Professionals Network

School of Environment and Natural Resources


Soil for Food! Data, technologies, and collaborations that build healthy soils and enhance human nutrition

Dec 5, 2022, 5:00pm - 7:30pm

Photo button from a collection of different images from the EPN December Evening Event

Program Overview

Soil health decline is driving many of the most persistent food nutrition, access, and security issues for communities across the globe. World Soil Day 2022 (#WorldSoilDay) and its campaign "Soils: Where food begins" aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management and encouraging societies to improve soil and ecosystem health.

Join this evening event, in collaboration with the Foods For Health Research Initiative and CFAES Rattan Lal Center for Carbon Management and Sequestration (C-MASC) at Ohio State, to both celebrate healthy soils, food, and agricultural systems and learn about an emerging collaborative community of farmers, scientists and researchers, engineers, farm service providers, and food companies committed to improving soil health and advancing agriculture’s ability to become a solution to climate change.

This program connects the work of the 2020 World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Rattan Lal, and leading researchers building tools designed for universal access to soil health and agricultural knowledge. As a demonstration, Dr. Dorn Cox, research director for the Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, will share about OpenTEAM field tools, remote sensing, agroecosystem models and decision support tools. The team utilizes a participatory human centered approach to design tools for universal access to help solve climate change, address food security and enhance nutrition. These approaches are also designed to improve soil health and adaptive management at the farm level, as well as research, certification, and ecosystem service markets. Dr. Jennifer Garner, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of food and nutrition policy, will engage the audience in a discussion of connecting low-income households to healthy foods through food systems. 

These imminent soil health, policy, and land management specialists will join together in a panel conversation with Dr. Jill Clark, associate professor in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs and founder of the Ohio Food Policy Network, to link together soil, food, and human nutrition. 

View an original EPN interview with Dr. Lal in 2019 at link here to learn more about the history and purpose of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ World Soil Day.


5:00 p.m. Doors open at 4-H Center; Food and beverages served for in-person attendees. 

Networking session, featuring autumn Ohio State senior capstone project posters on display in the A.B. Graham Hall. 

5:55 p.m.  Movement into the Bob Evans Memorial Auditorium for in-person attendees. Livestreaming service begins for virtual attendees.  

6:00 p.m. Eric Toman, PhD, interim director, Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) provides welcome remarks and a summary of Autumn Senior Capstone Projects.

6:05 p.m. Christina Allen, BSc, BA, Ohio State's 2021 President's Prize Winner, founder, Food Leads provides opening remarks linking event topics to local action. To learn more about Christina's work, visit

6:10 p.m. A series of content expert presentations, which will overview data collaborations between farmers and farm service providers, scientists and researchers, engineers, and food companies that are committed to improving soil health and advancing agriculture's ability to enhance food security, provide human nutrition and create solutions to climate change, will be provided by the following speakers:

  • Rattan Lal, PhD, distinguished university professor of soil science and director, CFAES Dr. Rattan Lal Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, presents Soil for Food!

  • Dorn Cox, PhD, research director, Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment, presents OpenTEAM: Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management.

  • Jennifer Garner, RD, PhD, registered dietitian and assistant professor of food and nutrition policy, affiliated faculty, Food for Health Research Initiative, shares how to connect low-income households to healthy foods through local food systems.

6:45 p.m. Panel dialogue between Lal, Cox, and Garner moderated by Jill Clark, PhD, associate professor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs and founder, the Ohio Food Policy Network. 

7:10 p.m. Audience Q & A session for both in-person and virtual audiences.

7:25 p.m. Closing Comments by Dr. Toman.


Rattan LalRattan Lal, PhD, distinguished university professor of soil science and director, CFAES Dr. Rattan Lal Carbon Management and Sequestration Center

Dr. Rattan Lal is a Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and Director of the CFAES Rattan Lal Center for Carbon Management and Sequestration at The Ohio State University, as well as an Adjunct Professor of University of Iceland and the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), India. He received a B.S. from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India (1963); M.S. from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, India (1965); and Ph.D. from the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio (1968). He served as Sr. Research Fellow with the University of Sydney, Australia (1968-69), Soil Physicist at IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria (1970-87), and Professor of Soil Science at OSU (1987 to date). He has authored/co-authored over 1000 refereed journal articles and more than 550 book chapters, has written and edited/co-edited more than 100 books. He was included in the Thomson Reuters list of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds (2014-2016), and he is among Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researchers in Agriculture (2014-2021), as well as ranked #1 in Agronomy and Agriculture overall, #34 globally for the year 2020, and #73 globally for career from 1973-2020 among the top 2% of scientists by Stanford’s Ioannidis (2019, 2020, 2021). He has received an Honoris Causa degree from nine universities throughout Europe, USA and Asia; the Medal of Honor from UIMP, Santander, Spain (2018); the Distinguished Service Medal of IUSS (2018); and is fellow of the five professional societies. Dr. Lal has mentored 115 graduate students and 182 visiting scholars from around the world. He was President of the World Association of Soil and Water Conservation (1987-1990), International Soil and Tillage Research Organization (1988-1991), Soil Science Society of America (2006-2008), and the International Union of Soil Sciences (2017-2018). He is Chair in Soil Science and Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainability Issues for the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and member of the 2021 United Nations Food Security Summit Science Committee and Action Tracks 1 & 3. Dr. Lal is laureate of the GCHERA World Agriculture Prize (2018), Glinka World Soil Prize (2018), Japan Prize (2019), U.S. Awasthi IFFCO Prize (2019), Arrell Global Food Innovation Award (2020), World Food Prize (2020), and India’s Padma Shri Award (2021).

Dorn CoxDorn Cox, PhD, research director, Wolfe’s Neck Center

Dr. Dorn Cox is the research director for the Wolfe's Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment in Freeport, Maine, and farms with his family on 250 acres in Lee, New Hampshire. He is a founder of the FarmOS software platform and Farm Hack community and is active in the US soil health movement and serves as a National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Soil Health Champion.  Dr. Cox speaks regularly nationally and internationally about participatory science, open agricultural knowledge exchange, soil health and climate smart agriculture. He is passionate about the potential for open-source agriculture to accelerate innovation and quantify environmental services. He has a PhD from the University of New Hampshire in Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science.

Jennifer GarnerJennifer Garner, RD, PhD, registered dietitian and assistant professor of food and nutrition policy, affiliated faculty, Food for Health Research Initiative

Dr. Jennifer Garner joined The Ohio State University faculty in fall 2018 as a Discovery Theme hire through the Initiative for Agricultural Transformation focus area. She has dual appointment in the College of Medicine’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Science and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Leveraging mixed methods, Garner evaluates community-based interventions designed to reduce food insecurity and chronic disease risk among low-income families. Specifically, her team is working to understand better the linkages between food system and health inequities and the potential to reduce such inequities through community-engaged initiatives that link the agricultural, social service, and healthcare sectors. Garner’s exposure to the interrelated topics of our food system, food access and nutrition programming began in her hometown — a small farming community in rural Michigan. She attended Central Michigan University on full scholarship and earned a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, summa cum laude, before matriculating into the combined PhD/RD program in Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences. Her dietetic internship offered opportunities to explore food access and health disparities in both community and clinical settings. As a NIH/NIDDK predoctoral trainee, she gained targeted training in the conduct of translational research via the WHO/Cochrane/Cornell University Summer Institute for Systematic Reviews in Nutrition for Global Policy Making and an internship in Washington, D.C., with the National Academy of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board. In addition to conducting research, Garner serves as Co-Chair of the Nutrition & Obesity Policy Research Network’s Rural Food Access Working Group, among other service roles. In 2017, Garner was awarded Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year by the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Jill ClarkJill Clark, PhD, associate professor, John Glenn College of Public Affairs and founder, the Ohio Network of Food Policy Councils

Dr. Jill Clark’s research is agrifood system policy and practice, centering on community and state governance of food systems, the policy process and community engagement. Primarily using a community-based research approach, she works with local communities across the United States. Current funded research focuses on food democracy, opportunities for connecting food security and agricultural economic development through local policy initiatives, healthy food access, and policy to support the growth of small and mid-size farms engaged in the food system. Currently, Clark provides statewide leadership for the Ohio Network of Food Policy Councils, national leadership as an advisory board member for Johns Hopkins Food Policy Network, and international leadership as a member of the international advisory committee for the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at Wilfrid Laurier University. Locally, she is a member of the executive committee of the Franklin County Local Food Council. Before joining the faculty, Clark directed the Center for Farmland Policy Innovation at Ohio State from its opening in 2006 until her departure in 2012. Before coming to Ohio State, she directed the Ohio office of American Farmland Trust, a national nonprofit. Clark has a doctorate in geography from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree from the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin.


Additional Information

This event's menu features a holiday dinner buffer including frisée and arugula with dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash, carmelized pecans, and roasted shallot vinaigrette; butternut squash soup with focaccia crouton spiced pork loin on braised kale; cider brined chicken breast with bourbon gravy and cranberry chutney; rosemary, olive oil roasted baby red potatoes. Coffee, hot tea, orange juice, and water will be served. There will be plates, cups, woodware, and napkins. 

We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Callia Téllez ( Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs. For the virtual audience, a closed captioning option via EPN’s YouTube live stream will be available, as well as other accommodations as requested on the registration.

Masks are optional for all event attendees at this event, in accordance with Ohio State’s Safe and Healthy Protocols as of this date. In-person attendees will be expected to follow Ohio State protocols regarding the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. More health and safety information available on this Personal Safety Practices page

This program will be livestreamed on the  EPN YouTube page. Additional information on livestream connections are available to those who register as a virtual participant for this event. 

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