Clay Robinson IS Dr. Dirt!

Clay yes, that really is my name!
I am a soil scientist who is passionate about telling people how awesome soil is! I have talked to more than 25,000 K-12 students, thousands of teachers, farmers and urban gardeners.

Soil is the foundation for all terrestrial ecosystems, and because it is always underfoot, it is almost always overlooked, and too often underappreciated.

Everyone needs to know that without soil, everyone would be without food, clothes and building materials, thus, “Hungry, Naked and Homeless“, and why it is so important to take care of it. (See “The Apple as Planet Earth“.)

I hope I can inspire you to become curious and have a sense of awe at the amazing world around you and I hope that curiousity arouses in you a desire to be good stewards of the resources that provide your food, clothing, and shelter.

I am an experienced soil scientist, consultant, agronomist, researcher, communicator and educator. In a career spanning more than thirty years, I have worked in the public, nonprofit and private sectors. I have a Bachelor’s in Agriculture and a Master’s in Agronomy from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University), and a PhD in Soil Science from Iowa State University. I am a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) and Certified Crop Adviser (CCA).
I have lived and worked in the deserts of New Mexico, the semiarid shortgrass prairies of the Texas High Plains and the humid Midwest states of Iowa and Illinois. Through coaching collegiate soil judging teams and consulting, I have evaluated soils and cropping systems in more than twenty states and six countries on four continents.

Soon after finishing my PhD, my wife dubbed me, Dr. Dirt, following that with a wink and an old joke – “My husband is a doctor, but not the kind that will do you any good”. I took it as a challenge!

At that time, I was teaching soil science at West Texas A&M University and my kids were in the local school system. Some of their teachers invited me to talk to their classes about my science – soil and agronomy.
I did, and I enjoyed it! And so, my alter ego, Dr. Dirt, was born.

In the late 1990s, my university asked me to develop an online course, and gave me the training to put materials online. Since I already wanted everyone to know how awesome soil is, I adapted and posted some activities from my college courses online in Dr. Dirt’s K-12 Teaching and Learning Activities.

“Soil is a Filter” was one of the first activities I put online and did with kids. Purple water (grape drink mix) poured into the top interacts with soil as it passes through, and purple water does not always come out the bottom.

I continued putting things on Dr. Dirt’s website, then began adding them to YouTube, and Instagram. As one of the first to use social media to spread the word about the beauty and wonder and science of soil, I gained a bit of renown in a very small audience.

But I was not alone, I am joined by several members of the Soil Science Society of America who are passionate about K-12 outreach. Our committee has written books for middle school and high school, developed two websites, state soil booklets, and developed, gathered and reviewed classroom-ready lesson plans for teachers of all grades. (See below for links.)

I have been married to the same wonderful woman since 1984, have three sons, one daughter and a foster son. As of 2024, I have four grandchildren.
I also have several quirky (some people think so) hobbies. In addition to the ones below, I am a hiker/backpacker and amateur nature photographer.

2023 Consulting took me to Hawaii and I took my wife.

I have no idea how many thousands of miles I have ridden (pedaled) my bikes: road, commuter/hybrid and mountain bike – even up a mountain once – the struggle up was worth it for the thrill down!

I “collect” state high points (the highest elevation point) – 27 as of March, 2024, plus the high point in Japan – Mt. Fuji.

Know Soil, Know Life For high school and introductory college students, gain a foundation about the world of soils.

Learn about your State Soil!

Soil! Get the Inside Scoop Get kids excited about the living world of soil! Written for children aged 9-12, this 36-page, full-color book explores how soil is part of our life—the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the houses we live in, and more.