Sammy Soil, the USDA’s homegrown soil conservation mascot, might not be the mascot American farmers need nor deserve but he’s the only one they’ve got.
If you thought mascots were only associated with sports teams and Japan, think again. Sammy Soil, a distinctively designed soil conservation character who picks up where Joe Dirt leaves off, has proudly represented the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service for over 40 years!
Sammy didn’t just sprout up from nowhere, though his germination did occur in the depths of a dark knight er, night. “The idea came to me in a dream,” stated long-time NCRS employee Ernest “Howard” Whitaker. The Tennessee-based district conservationist recreated his nocturnal vision of Sammy in a water color drawing the very next day.
Whitaker wasn’t sure how Sammy could be utilized – soil conservation wasn’t exactly a hot-button issue back in 1967. Whitaker’s wife Nell saw the character’s potential, however, and as a teacher she knew right away the concept was sure to take root in her students’ fertile minds. With a few informed tweaks from Nell, Sammy was set to hit the dirt road running!
Nell’s advice paid off handsomely, as Sammy guided students through the fundamentals of soil conservation in a popular series of school activity books. Whitaker’s dream was ready to branch out and take the final steps towards becoming THE national symbol of soil and land conservation.
Need more examples of agricultural creativity? Check out Oh My Cob! 7 Amazing Colorful Corn Varieties!