A 1995 graduate of the West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences has been selected to receive the 2005 National Field Soil Scientist Award presented by the U.S. Forest Service.

Stephanie ( Conway ) Connolly, an alumna of the Davis College’s Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, is currently a forest soil scientist for the Monongahela National Forest .

Although her achievements in the area of soil sciences are many, several of her key projects include: creating complete Geographical Information Systems (GIS) layers of the forest for soil sensitivity, erosion potential, soil nutrient sensitivity and frigid soils; creating a forest-wide legend that enables users to access all soils data from a single source; completion of a soil display at one nature center with plans to create one for the other visitor center; and tackling issues such as acid deposition and mercury contamination.

�€?I am deeply honored to receive this award, and most of how I feel cannot be put into words but only expressed by my continual drive to accomplish more for soil science,�€? she said. �€?The mountains of West Virginia are my home. It is a great honor to be a steward of the land here.�€?

Connolly also values mentorship and education. Through a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and WVU , she has been able to hire and mentor several WVU graduate students. She has also been active in providing opportunities for peers, new professionals and students and has been hired to teach a class focusing on soils at Penn State .

�€?I’m working in my �€~dream job’here in the forest, and now I am in the position to be able to return the support that I was given as a student,�€? Connolly said. �€?Working with West Virginia University and the students helps to complete what I would want to accomplish in my job.�€?

Not only does Connolly believe she is returning the support she was given as a student, she also feels she’s promoting the field of soil science.

�€?Soil is a fundamental resource that is limited. It is important to help students learn to apply the knowledge that they gain through school to real world management situations,�€? she said. �€?Both the forest and the students benefit from this working partnership.�€?

Jim Thompson, assistant professor in plant and soil science at WVU , has worked with Connolly frequently since he joined the faculty. �€?Stephanie has a dynamic personality and her energy motivates people,�€? he said.

Giving this award to her �€?helps demonstrate the quality of students that we have in the program and the quality of the education and training that they receive from the soil science faculty,�€? Thompson added. �€?We’reproud of Stephanie and proud of how she represents WVU and the soil science program.�€?