Jason Lessl has been the program coordinator of the Soil, Plant and Water Analysis Laboratory since he started working with AESL in March 2015.
As the program coordinator, Lessl oversees laboratory operations to ensure quality and timely analysis of samples and to give recommendations to Georgia's growers, homeowners and agribusinesses.
"Soil is a vital, (essentially) non-renewable resource and no matter how 'bad' or polluted your soil is, it can be nourished back to health," he said of his research.
Lessl is an avid urban agriculturalist; he maintains a garden, composts, tends backyard chickens, brews his own beer and is currently adding bee hives to his property. It's no wonder Lessl has made improving urban agricultural one of his goals.
"Over the last century, people have been further and further removed from agriculture. I believe that trend is starting to reverse as the demand for sustainably grown, locally sourced food increases," said Lessl.
With the resurgence of small-scale, urban agriculture, there is a growing need for accessible information.
"My goal is to provide pertinent information to Georgians to keep them safe and successful," Lessl said. "We want to encourage agricultural activities, both on the producing and consuming end of the spectrum."
According to Lessl, one of the biggest challenges facing University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is the underutilization of its services by agriculturalists in Georgia. During his short time with UGA Extension, Lessl has already made a big push to get the word out about what AESL is doing.
"I have already collaborated with several other Extension employees to write two bulletins with a focus on common contaminants in soil and water and what to do about it," he said. He plans on offering classes about the soil testing laboratory at next year's winter conference Extension program in order to publicize the new tests the lab offers to address urban soil issues.
"My job plays a key role in helping Georgians to become healthier, more productive and environmentally responsible," he said of his favorite part of the job.
Visit the Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories website for more information.
Published September 28, 2015
B.S. in Biology from the University of Georgia; M.S. in Plant Pathology from the University of Georgia; Ph.D. in Soil and Water Science from the University of Florida; Ph.D. Minor in Horticultural Science from the University of Florida
Born in Wisconsin, lived in Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County for about 18 years
He has backyard chickens and a home brewery.