Carlos P. Cole

2009 Recipient of the Golden Auger Award

Carlos Cole's first interest in soils probably started on his home farm and in 4-H Land Judging in Gilmer County, WV. Carlos was president of his FFA chapter as a high school senior, and he later went on to major in pre-agriculture at Glenville State College. Carlos subsequently transferred to WVU and majored in soil science. His second year at WVU, Carlos went to the Southeast Regional Collegiate Soils Contest in Auburn, AL, and was the high scoring individual for the contest. In the fall of 1972 Carlos and five or six other students started the WVU Soils Club, which is now known as the WVU Plant and Soil Science Club.

In May of 1973, Carlos graduated with a BS in Soil Science from WVU, and immediately began working on his MS degree. Carlos started to work for the Soil Conservation Service on the Soil Survey of Marion and Monongalia Counties, WV, during the summer of 1975 while still working on his MS. He completed his research, wrote his thesis, took his finals, and obtained his MS in the spring of 1976, all the time working full time for SCS.

In November of 1976, Carlos was transferred to Putnam County, WV, to work with Charles Delp. The following summer, Carlos and Charles were joined by Steve Carpenter. Carlos and Steve completed the Soil Survey of Putnam County, WV, in 1981, and then spent a year working on the National Resources Inventory for Cabell, Lincoln, and Wayne Counties, WV. After the NRI, Carlos and Steve started and completed the Soil Survey for Cabell County, WV. About 1985, Steve went to Nicholas County, WV, and Carlos started the Soil Survey of Wayne County, WV. Carlos also worked closely with the area soil scientist and Barrie Wolf, the project leader from the South Area, transecting the unexplored landscapes in Wyoming, Boone, and some of the other most southern counties in WV. Carlos participated in the major sampling efforts in this remote area and helped develop a number of new soil series.

In August of 1989, Carlos transferred to Parkersburg as the Resource Soil Scientist. His major responsibilities were to work with the Field Offices on any soil related problems. Carlos continued his mapping goals and helped on transects, pedon descriptions, and sampling in the newly started Soil Survey of Calhoun and Roane Counties, WV, where Rob Pate was the project leader. The Resource Soil Scientists were still doing a lot of on-site visits at this time, and Carlos would spend one to three days a week just doing on-site visits for houses, septic systems, slips, ponds, and many other land uses. He later assisted Tim Dilliplane with the update of the Soil Survey of Jackson and Mason Counties, WV. Carlos helped with the initial Soil Survey of Doddridge County, WV, and to a lesser extent, the initial Soil Survey of Gilmer County, WV, and the update of the Soil Survey of Marshall County, WV.

Conservation education is an arena which Carlos feels is very rewarding. In some years Carlos has organized up to seven land judging contests, and then helped Jeff Skousen with the State FFA Land Judging Contest. Carlos helps the Conservation Districts with several field days each year. The West Virginia Envirothon was held in the West Area for seven straight years and Carlos was responsible for the soils station and soils testing. Carlos provided the soil resource materials that were made available to each team and later put on the envirothon web site for easy access. Training sessions were held for all of the teams in the West Area, and even statewide. Carlos was also honored to be in charge of the soils stop of the Canon Envirothon, when the national contest was held in Upshur County, WV, in 2004.

During the winter of 1978, Carlos was on the original steering committee to help organize West Virginia Soil Scientists, later to be called the West Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists (WVAPSS). Kelley Sponaugle was the person that initiated this first meeting along with six other soil scientists: Bill Hahenberg of the US Forest Service; Sam Baldwin of the Westmoreland Coal Company; Claude Marra, Charles Nelson, Kelley Sponaugle, and Carlos Cole, of the Soil Conservation Service. This original group had several meetings, with the first meeting being held at Marlowe’s Restaurant in Sutton, West Virginia, where Charles Nelson was elected as President and Claude Marra was Secretary-Treasurer. The Constitution and By-Laws were developed using examples from several other soil organizations from all across the US, and serve us to this day. Carlos has served as a WVAPSS board member several times and twice as President. The last time Carlos served as President of WVAPSS was in 1997, the same year the State Soil Bill passed both the House and Senate in the WV State Legislature, making Monongahela silt loam officially the West Virginia State Soil.

Soils are a major part of Carlos’s life, and he has contributed significantly to the objectives of advancing the public’s knowledge of our soil resources, promoting the wise use of soil as a natural resource, and always showing highest standards of professionalism in his work performance.

  Maintained by Jim Thompson