Farmers, advisors and conservation professionals looking to sharpen their skills and further Illinois’ stewardship practices are encouraged to apply for the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership’s (ISAP) Soil Health Leadership program when applications open Friday, March 1. 

The program, which brings together diverse participants working together to improve agricultural environmental stewardship, is now looking to fill its sixth graduating class. 

“ISAP’s mission is to create a network of professionals who support a systems approach to improve soil health and reduce nutrient loss,” said Jim Isermann, soil health specialist, ISAP. “Since 2016, the Soil Health Leadership program – formerly known as the Advanced Soil Health Training Program – has done just that, providing graduates with knowledge to understand the physical, biological and chemical characteristics of soil, the management of systems that farmers can employ to improve soil health, and pragmatic steps to successfully transition an operation to this system, all while overcoming common challenges.”

Accepted applicants will have the opportunity to grow their soil health understanding, allowing them to become valuable resources for the Illinois agriculture community. What’s more, working through the training as a group allows participants the opportunity to expand their professional network and build relationships with other professionals and farmers in their region. 

“The Soil Health Leadership program presented an opportunity that would allow me to sharpen my skills and knowledge focusing on my passion for soil and soil health. For these reasons applying for this program was a no brainer,” said Brandon Hall, location operations manager for West Central FS. “For me, being able to rub elbows with highly experienced professionals in this space of the industry was extremely beneficial. When you tie all the opportunities this program provides, from the participants and in-field visits and demos with the diverse lineup of presenters, I believe this program is an amazing opportunity for anyone interested in this sector of the industry.” 

Training session topics for the upcoming class include: 

  • Soil structure and function; 
  • Nutrient Management and Soil biology; 
  • Cover crop selection, seeding techniques and termination; 
  • Planting and tillage equipment set up; 
  • Soil Health and Field demonstrations training; and
  • Communication and outreach strategies.

Training will be given in six sessions over 18 months, starting in August 2024 and running through 2025. Each session is two days, with both classroom and in-field components. 

Applicants who successfully complete the course will be recognized as Soil Health Ambassadors; CCA CEUs also are available. 

Interested applicants should fill out the necessary application by May 31, 2024. Visit for more information.

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About the Author: Kelsey Litchfield

Kelsey Litchfield is the Agronomic Outreach Specialist for the Illinois Soybean Association. In her role, she manages ILSoyAdvisor media platforms and assists the agronomy team with events and field days. A native of Rio, IL, Kelsey earned her bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2017 where she double majored in Agricultural Communications and Broadcast Journalism.

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