Founded in 1987, the Society supports the soil science profession from a private sector perspective, however, you do not have to be a consultant to be a voting member.
Encouraging consulting as a career choice is particularly important to our members. We raise money and have allocated $4000 in scholarships to be awarded in 2009. We are working with the Soil Science Society of America to award these funds so as to highlight private sector opportunities. We are particularly interested in supporting undergraduate soils curriculum. Our vision is to see the prospects for future consulting soil scientists improved by our efforts.
Founded on a war footing
We were founded on a war footing, to combat threats to the private enterprise aspects of the profession. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum, so to speak. We discovered that what truly attracted us about the Society was the opportunity of learning from each other. And of course we don’t learn just from other consultants but from all soil scientists. So we transformed the Society to better support this focus, and we changed the bylaws accordingly.
Now any individual soil scientist, consulting or otherwise, can be a full voting member. In order to stay true to our Articles of Incorporation, the Society has it so that you have to be a consulting soil scientist to hold office, to be a leader and a representative of the Society.
Areas of practice
Most members' businesses are driven by land development, and environmental compliance documentation. More members are involved with on-site septic system siting than any other area of endeavor, and NSCSS membership tends to concentrate in areas which rely heavily on these types of systems. Other popular experience areas are wetlands, and soil survey.
Over a quarter of our members are involved in each of the following areas: agriculture, land application, and land management. At least one in ten members have expertise in bioremediation, erosion control, geotechnical, hazardous waste, or soil stabilization. Stormwater permitting is an important impetus to involvement with erosion and sediment control.
Benefits of Membership
1) Mentoring. Members start up, diversify, and expand their business activities with the support of their Society peers. Shared work examples are particularly valuable for pursuing new opportunities.
2) Insurance. NSCSS has negotiated attractive rates for professional errors and omissions insurance.
3) Technical Communications from NCSS. Soil scientists: joining NSCSS puts your name and email address on your USDA-NRCS State Soil Scientist's list of cooperating soil scientists.
Adherence to National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) standards is a core value within NSCSS. Accordingly, our members see NCSS communications as particularly valuable. Our field descriptions of soil profiles, and our use of published soil survey interpretations on behalf of our clients, must adhere to technical standards established by NCSS. Membership in NSCSS will support your continuing efforts to stay up-to-date with these standards. It also opens the door for you to become involved in revising those standards as the understanding of soil advances: NCSS is dynamic, and there is a place at the table for consulting soil scientists.
4) Professional Registration. SSSA's CPSS/C program provides core proficiency certification, and NSCSS fully supports and encourages SSSA certification among our members. Our RPSS program builds on that core and addresses the gnarly aspects of professionalism that are particular challenges in soil science consulting. Knowing what is legal, what isn't, and what you can get sued for is part of that. But beyond the obvious litigation risks, there are professional conduct issues to prepare for. These often involve the tension between an expectation of advocacy from our client pool and the professional requirement to be scientifically objective. Structuring our contracts and communications to properly protect our clients' interests, yet preventing unreasonable expectations, all while avoiding conflicts of interests, is a skill set we require of our NSCSS registered professional soil scientists.
5) NSCSS works in support soil science licensing, with active efforts currently ongoing in Tennessee and Washington.