Jim Clendenin, Soil Health Specialist
My name is Jim Clendenin. I grew up near Watertown SD. My early work history includes raising hogs on my dad’s farm and working for an uncle near Granite Falls, MN. He wondered 50 years ago how we could correct soil loss while we stood in the middle of a field that I was plowing for him. Consequently, this comment spurred my interest in what is today soil health. I also worked for an area farmer in Watertown who was very interested in reducing tillage and creating a better soil environment, but we didn’t call it soil health, he just felt it was the right thing to do.
After I graduated from SDSU I started a high school ag program in Morris, MN. While in Morris I was introduced to the people at the Federal Soil Research Lab gaining soil info from them. I also was introduced to ridge tillage by a local farmer who wanted to reduce runoff and thought this method was a step in the right direction.
After teaching in Morris, I went to work as an ag instructor at Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) and was assigned soils as one of my classes. That was 1982 and I taught this class until my retirement in 2018. While at LATI I helped to start an Agronomic Demonstration Center emphasizing no till practices. Managing this farm became one of my duties and it provided an opportunity to learn about good soil health practices as a result of work. This farm was one of my great joys while at LATI, we could take students out to the farm and show them what we were discussing in class. My students and I had many friendly “discussions” about no till and tillage along the way and hopefully some of the concepts taught are productive for my former students today. Helping students create careers was also a source of great pride and satisfaction as I progressed through my career at LATI.
I am now working for the Soil Health Coalition which is made up of people dedicated to taking care of the soil and preserving it for the next generation.
My fun comes from outdoor activities, hunting, some fishing, some traveling, watching and teasing grand-kids, their parents and my wife. I also enjoy visiting with former students about careers and agriculture.