For thirty years we have been working in the forests and soils of rural South Caroilna. Perhaps the most important thing we do is keep long-running field experiments alive (experiments that long pre-date us). We also pay a lot of attention to environmental history. We've watched the local kids grow up as we've also gotten to know many people in the local communities of European and African origin. While we certainly need to attend more church gatherings, we have attended a few, and while some profess that we must be digging for gold, nearly all have grown to respect us. Probably this is in part because we don't go away, and we so doggedly believe in place-based research. After all, we study what rural people depend on -- the land, soil, water, trees, crops, and air. We've given data of soil chemistry to cooperative farmers, historic maps as Christmas presents, books as gifts for letting us drill deep groundwater wells into the underlying granite (because the USFS would take years for NEPA to approve our proposed well), and flowers to simply generous neighbors. We've also accepted garden produced okra, corn, and potatoes. After 30 years, I may be naive, but if you respect the land as any critical zonist (Earth scientist) must, we need place-based geological research like critical zone observatories and rural folks not only need to become part of the research, they are willing to do so.
Richter, Daniel deB. (2017): Every rural resident knows that the geosciences matter!. American Geophysical Union 2017 Fall Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, 11-15 December 2017.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.