2023 Annual Meeting

April 19-23, 2023
The Professional Soil Scientists Association of California (PSSAC) invites you to join us for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take an in-depth look at Santa Cruz Island. Space is very limited so be sure to register early.

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Field Meeting at Santa Cruz Island: A Unique Opportunity

Santa Cruz Island-Map

We are excited to begin accepting registrations for PSSAC’s April 19-23, 2023 field meeting on Santa Cruz Island!

This field meeting provides a rare opportunity to visit Santa Cruz Island, a remnant of prehistoric coastal southern California isolated off Santa Barbara. Santa Cruz Island features some of the most southwestward positioned subaerial geologic outcrops of the North American landmass where a significant body of geologic research has been done from late Quaternary sea-level and climate changes to the tectonic evolution of the western North American plate boundary. A detailed soil survey of the Channel Islands was completed in the early 2000s. We will experience the island’s natural beauty with focus on exploring its geology, geomorphology, and soils, and we’ll dig some into cultural history, archeology, and accelerated geomorphic processes & erosion resulting from human land use. The meeting is designed to mesh with the mission of the University of California Reserve System. We plan to observe and discuss past and present research projects and mapping activities and contribute to the increased understanding and wise stewardship of the island’s soils, vegetation, and cultural resources.

Many of the field stops will take us to areas closed to public access and difficult to reach. A few stops are within Channel Islands National Park on the eastern side of SCI, but most fall within the 76 percent of the island owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. This five-day trip requires 4WD vehicles and includes a few 0.4-to-2.4-kilometer (~0.25 to 1.50 mile) hikes.

Island Packers Ferry Docking

Day 1 will include transportation to SCI from Ventura via the Island Packers Ferry. Upon arrival at the island, Santa Cruz Island Reserve staff will transport us and our gear to the University of California Field Station. After organizing sleeping assignments and eating self-provided lunches, there will be an introductory overview of the island, a field stop, and a catered dinner.

On Day 2, following a catered breakfast, we will visit field stops along the Southern Ridge area in the central portion of the island dominated by schist geology and scenic viewpoints. Lunch will be provided. The evening will include a catered dinner.

On Day 3 we will travel into the National Park following breakfast. The day includes Monterey shale geology, SCI volcanics, soils, and land use. Lunch will be provided, and later, a catered dinner.

Santa Cruz Island Hiking Trail

On Day 4 we will enjoy a catered breakfast and then depart for the western side of the island where stratigraphy from late Pleistocene through the Holocene can be seen, including uplifted marine terraces, and other features. In the afternoon we will view grazing impacts and accelerated geomorphic processes. A catered dinner will be served in the evening.

Following breakfast on Day 5, the group will convene for closing discussions and Q&A. Then all will participate in cleaning the UC Field Station, packing up trash to be hauled out, and packing up personal gear before traveling to Prisoner’s Harbor, with a stop along the way. A sack lunch will be provided. The Island Packers Ferry returns us to Ventura Harbor by about 5:00 pm that afternoon.

Guest Experts. We are pleased to welcome the following individuals who will share their in-depth expertise during our visit to Santa Cruz Island:

Nicolas Pinter, PhD. Shlemon Professor of Applied Geosciences and Associate Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis.

Eleanor Fishburn (née Arellanes). Chairwoman of the Barbareño Band of Chumash Indians and their cultural representative.

2023 Santa Cruz Island Planning Team. Countless hours have gone into the planning for this meeting. PSSAC thanks its entire Board of Directors and Meeting Planning Team:
Dave Smith (President-elect), Rachel Kozloski (President 2022), Phil Smith (Past President), Bryan Rahn (Secretary Treasurer), John Munn (Northern Area Director), Kerry Arroues (Central Area Director), Roy Shlemon, PhD (Southern Area Director), Jay Reti PhD (Santa Cruz Island Reserve Director), Nicholas Pinter, PhD (UC Davis), Ben Faber (UCCE), David Kelley (Kelley & Associates Environmental Sciences), Joel Butterworth (PSSAC Past-Past President), and Mary Reed (PSSAC Executive Secretary)

Santa Cruz Island Reserve Rules/Disclaimers. Participants are required to sign a Biosecurity and Code of Conduct Agreement as well as photo and liability Waivers. No animals, no firearms, and no smoking or vaping will be allowed at the Reserve. See: https://santacruz.nrs.ucsb.edu/apply-and-reserve-visit

Registering for the Meeting and Important Details

The registration fees for this amazing meeting include: Round trip Island Packers Ferry transportation to the island, parking at the Ventura Ferry Terminal, a sleeping space (see options below) for four nights, twelve gourmet meals by Gabrielle’s Kitchen (including dinner on Day 1; breakfast, lunch and dinner on Days 2-4; and breakfast and lunch on Day 5), expert guest speakers, on-island transportation, a reusable PSSAC water bottle, and a printed spiral-bound meeting guide book. (You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, pillow, towels, personal items, and ALSO a tent if that is your sleeping option.) Note: you will need to provide your own breakfast and lunch on Day 1, and dinner on Day 5.

Please note that registration for this meeting is very restricted due to limited toilet and shower facilities at the UC Santa Cruz Island Reserve Field Station, and potable water must be conserved.

Important Notes: 1) Please enclose your deposit check for $950 to reserve your space. If you prefer to use your PayPal account, click the PayPal link below. There will be a $30 processing fee to cover PayPal’s charges. 2) Registrations AND sleeping assignments will be made on a first-come/first-reserved basis, with PSSAC’s Meeting Planning Team reserving the right to adjust sleeping assignments for special circumstances. 3) After sleeping assignments are finalized, we will invoice you for the remaining balance of your required registration fee. 4) If more registrations are received than there is available space, a wait list will be created. 5) This very special Field Meeting includes rustic/remote accommodations, and transportation and hiking distances to soil pits and other field stops may be substantial, crossing over uneven terrain.

There are Three Registration Options

  • Private Room with Double or Queen Bed (very limited). [Registration is $1125 per person.]
  • Bunk Rooms with limited upper and lower bunks. There are five bunk rooms, each room has between 2-6 bunks each. [Registration is $975 per person.]
  • Tent set-up Space (bring your own tent). [Registration is $950 per person.]

To Register for the Meeting (requested no later than March 15, 2023):

The initial DEPOSIT for all sleeping options is $950 (less any applicable discounts), and participants will be invoiced for any remainder due, depending upon the sleeping assignment. Registrations for this very limited space meeting will be processed on a first-come/first reserved basis. A wait list for this meeting will be created (based upon USPS date stamp/PayPal payment date stamp) if needed.

Complete the registration form on the meeting’s brochure (PDF), and return with your deposit check. Mail your registration form and check (payable to PSSAC) to: P.O. Box 5972; Vacaville, CA 95696.

OR – You have the option of paying your registration deposit of $950 (plus a $30 PayPal fee) using your PayPal account using the Add to Cart button below.

PSSAC Professional Member Discount. Professional Members whose PSSAC dues are current (with no lapsed payments) may deduct $100 from their DEPOSIT amount if paying by check.  (If payment is made by PayPal, please email info@pssac.org to request your $100 “PSSAC Professional Member” refund.)

Island Packers Seniors’ Discount. Participants 55 years or older may deduct $5 from their DEPOSIT amount if paying by check. (Again, if paying by PayPal, please email info@pssac.org to request your $5 refund.)

Cancellations/Refunds.  Please note that cancellations will NOT be refunded after March 1, 2023; cancellation refunds requested prior to 3/1/23 will be subject to a $50 processing fee.

PSSAC’s Board of Directors and Planning Team is very excited about this unique opportunity to visit Santa Cruz Island and look forward to seeing many of you there!


Four “tent” registrations, each discounted in the amount of $600, will be offered as scholarships to current university students interested in attending this meeting. With these scholarship discounts, four students will be able to attend this meeting for only $350! Applications will be evaluated by a scholarship review team, utilizing information as provided by the applicants. Interested students should email the following scholarship application information to info@pssac.org no later than February 15, 2023. Selected scholarship recipients will be notified no later than March 1, 2023.

Scholarship Application Requirements:

1. Name
2. Mailing Address (permanent)
3. University Currently Enrolled AND Student’s University email address
4. Non-University Email Address
5. Academic Standing/Year
6. Planned Major
7. 3-4 Paragraph “Interest” Statement including the following information: a) how student became interested in soil science and related subjects; b) what classes they have taken relative to that interest; c) how they have been inspired/encouraged by this field of study; and d) describe their career intentions after graduation.
8. Brief description of the student’s financial need.
9. Additional email from one natural resources professor in support of the student’s application for a scholarship. (Faculty email of support should be sent directly to: info@pssac.org no later than February 22, 2023.)

QUESTIONS? Email info@pssac.org

Meeting FAQs. (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. UC Acknowledgement/Release/Indemnification Waiver. Each participant with be required to sign a University of California Acknowledgement/Release/Indemnification form prior to arrival on Santa Cruz Island.
  2. Meals. Twelve gourmet meals, catered by Gabrielle’s Kitchen, are included in the registration price. These include dinner on Day 1, breakfasts, lunches and dinners on Days 2-4, and breakfast and lunch on Day 5. Participants will need to provide their own breakfast and lunch on Day 1, and their own dinner on Day 5.
  3. PSSAC Professional Member Discounts. PSSAC Professional Members whose dues are current can provide their Professional Member Number, and receive a $100 discount on their meeting fees.
  4. 55+ Island Packers Ferry Round Trip Discount. Island Packers Ferry offers a $5 discount to all riders 55 and older. We are passing along this savings to you. Simply note that you are 55+ on your registration form and deduct $5 from your meeting fee.
  5. Ventura Harbor and Island Packers Ferry. Your registration fee includes travel to Santa Cruz Island via Island Packers Ferry. It also includes parking at the Island Packers Ferry terminal parking lot during the meeting. The ferry departs the terminal promptly at 9:00 am, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time for parking your vehicle, checking in the with meeting team and getting your ferry ticket, and then loading your personal gear onto the ferry.
  6. Sleeping Options. There are a very limited number of private rooms (with double or queen beds); five rooms with various numbers of bunk beds in them, and a large flat outdoor area suitable for tents. When submitting your registration form for the meeting indicate your preferred sleeping option. The sleeping spaces will be assigned on a first come/first reserved basis, but the planning team reserves the option to adjust assigned sleeping areas for special circumstances.
  7. Gear. Participants need to provide their own sleeping bags, pillows, towels, soaps, shampoos and other personal clothing and gear.
  8. Water Conservation.  There is limited potable water available on the island. Please plan to take short, infrequent showers and conserve water whenever possible. 
  9. Field Travel. Transportation to most of the field stops will be via 4WD Truck traveling on dirt/gravel roads, and then the group will hike a distance from the road to view the designated area of interest. There are almost NO public restrooms available on the island, but the group will bring a Luggable Loo and hand sanitizer for use as needed.

Santa Cruz Island From Above