Indianapolis (March 1, 2021) - The Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) announces the hiring of Stephanie Wulpenry, Marian Rodriguez-Soto, and Casey Kennett as Regional Urban Soil Health Specialists with Indiana’s new Urban Soil Health Program. These specialists will cover the entire state for this initiative formally started in January. Launching as a partnership between the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (IASWCD) and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), this program will promote a systematic conservation approach to agriculture in urban and small-scale farm settings.
“We are eager to welcome these three dynamic women to help develop the new Urban Soil Health Program and work closely with local partners,” says Elli Blaine, Urban Ag Soil Health Program Director. “They come with diverse skill sets that range from technical and academic experience with soils and soil pests, to community engagement and advocacy in the urban agriculture arena.”
Northeast Area Region Specialist Stephanie Wulpenry, based in the Fort Wayne NRCS Area Office, has been a Food Systems Advocate for urban farmers in Fort Wayne and throughout the regional urban agriculture community. Wulpenry has been ‘ag’vocating for sustainable and environmentally regenerative resources and practitioners for over a decade – from her first community garden installation in 2008 to Capitol Hill visits during the summer of the 2018 Farm Bill negotiation.
Northwest Area Region Specialist Marian Rodriguez-Soto, based in the Lafayette NRCS Area Office, has a background in agricultural sciences, crop protection, and soil ecology, and this spring will complete her master’s degree through the Department of Entomology at Purdue, where she studies soil pest management systems. As part of her degree, she participates in outreach programs and communicates the results of her research. She has been a regular volunteer with NICHES Land Trust.
Southeast Area Region Specialist Casey Kennett, based in the North Vernon NRCS Area Office, recently worked for the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), where she co-led multiple SWCDs to form their own local urban soil health working group PHISH (People Helping Improve Soil Health). In collaboration with SWCDs, Indiana Conservation Partnership members, and landowners, Kennett has organized events and workshops, written conservation grant applications, and implemented various programs advocating for conservation.
Holly McCutchan, Urban Conservationist with the Warrick County Soil and Water Conservation District, will continue in her position and participate in this initiative as the Southwest Area Region Specialist.