Seeing the world through soils

Yamina Pressler, PhD
5 min readApr 15, 2021

Studying soils has changed my perspective of my local landscapes, and you can learn to see soils, too.

Digging through a soil in College Station, TX to reveal the beautiful colors associated with redox reactions in saturated soils.

Just the other day, I was taking the bus through town. I was the only person on the bus that afternoon. The bus driver, let’s call him Ted, was bubbling over with enthusiasm that day. When I asked him how long he had been a bus driver in town, he responded with a wave of reasons for why he has loved his job since he started 2.5 years ago.

Reason number 1. Ted enjoys meeting new people and talking to folks from all walks of life.

Reason number 2. Ted likes driving, is good at driving, and therefore finds it satisfying to get people to their destination safely.

Reason number 3. Ted feels like he gets to spend most of the day almost outside, exploring his local landscapes. That’s when mentioned birds… he gets to drive around town, talking to people, and noticing birds. We made an immediate connection.

I told him I’d recently started birding and that I teach ecology at the local university. He told me about the White-tailed Kite he’d seen earlier that day, and about how he missed spending time with his birding group during the pandemic.

Ted sees our town through a birder’s and bus driver’s lens. He’s looking for birds wherever he goes and it makes his job experience…