IN MEMORIAM – JON HEMPEL (†2018)
Jon Hempel retired as the Director of the National Soil Survey Center for the US Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Lincoln, NE with 32 years of Federal Service. Prior to assuming this position, he served in multiple leadership positions, with NRCS, as the Director of the National Geospatial Development Center in West Virginia, and State Soil Scientist and Soil Survey Digitizing Unit Leader in Wisconsin. During his 32 year career with NRCS, he has also held a variety of technical positions, including Soil Data Quality Specialist, MLRA Project Leader and Area Resource Soil Scientist within the NRCS soil survey program, which included work in Alaska, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin. His background included work as a Research Associate with Iowa State University with work in the soil survey program and in the private sector in foundation engineering. His educational background is in Soil Science and Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Jon’s work in digital soil mapping has laid the framework within the Soil Science Division to bring these techniques forward and aid in the continued improvement of soil survey.
Jon’s great contribution to soil science was as an internationalist – bringing soil scientists from all over the world together with common and challenging goals.
In addition to his chairing the IUSS Working Group on a Universal Soil Classification System, he was instrumental in setting up GlobalSoilMap and all the global initiatives that have happened as a consequence of that, including contributing to the establishment and work program of the Global Soil Partnership. He was an inaugural member of the International Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) as well.
After his retirement Jon rediscovered soils in the field in extremely remote parts of Australia. He did this with an openness and delight in his discoveries. He also added wisdom, experience and history, and good humour to Australia’s tightly knit soil survey community.
There is much sadness now in the soil science community. Jon will be greatly missed by his colleagues and friends all over the world!
By Erika Michéli, chair of Division 1