Three Rivers Urban Soil Symposium

This event is no longer on sale.

Thursday November 21

8:45 AM  –  6:30 PM

Join nationally acclaimed experts, professionals, and community practicioners for an exploration of urban soils and their relation to agriculture, stormwater management, habitat, and climate.

The Second Annual Three Rivers Urban Soils Symposium will include discussions of urban soils and their connection to public health, urban agriculture, storm water management, trees and parks, and climate change. We will also address community and residential concerns. Presenters include nationally recognized experts in addition to the research and community-based efforts of regional academics, students, and professionals.

Phipps will host the second annual Three Rivers Urban Soils Symposium (TRUSS) on Nov. 21, 2019 in partnership with the Allegheny County Conservation District and members of the Pittsburgh Urban Soils Working Group. TRUSS will bring together community leaders, researchers, scientists, students, policy makers and anyone interested in Pittsburgh’s soil conditions to discuss the state of urban soils and their interconnectedness to public health, urban agriculture, stormwater management, and climate.

Symposium presenters include nationally acclaimed experts from institutions as diverse as the Rodale Institute, Heritage Farms, the EPA, the New York City Composting Program, and several other universities and nonprofits. 

In Pittsburgh, as in other post-industrial cities, understanding both the limitations and potential of urban soils is essential to address current and future environmental challenges. By 2050, nearly 90% of America’s population will reside in urbanized areas, and the challenges they will face are prominently represented here in Allegheny County. The Symposium will connect people across a broad range of disciplines and experiences to fully understand and evaluate these issues, fostering a new level of awareness, understanding and engagement that will benefit our region and beyond.



Event Details

Fee: $35 on or before October 31; $45 after October 31


Registration includes morning coffee and light breakfast items, as well as a lunch buffet with vegetarian and gluten-free options. If you have additional dietary requests, please contact us.


Scholarship: Full and partial scholarships are available by applying to the Pittsburgh Urban Growers Professional Development Scholarship.

Professional Credits: Each of the 4 sessions has been approved for 1.5 CEUs by LA CES. Please sign in at each session with your landscape architect license number to confirm your attendance.

This event has been approved for 6.5 PCH or 6.5 SLC CEUs for PA certified horticulturists. Forms will be available at the event.

Location: All programs will be held at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. The conservatory address is: One Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. 

Questions? Email


The speaker list below is tentative, and the schedule is subject to change. Check back for more lecture details and speaker additions. 



8:15 - 8:45 a.m. | Registration


8:45 – 9:15 a.m. | Opening Remarks

Members of the Urban Soil Working Group


9:15 – 10:45 a.m. | Composting in Urban Systems

Rick Carr, Compost Production Specialist, Rodale Institute 

Staff Member, NYC Compost Project

Anthony Stewart, President & Environmental Director, DECO Resources 

Program Highlight: Shadyside Worms


11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Growing Food in Urban Soils

Dr. Kirsten Schwartz, associate professor of environmental science and the director of the Ecological Stewardship Institute at Northern Kentucky University

Dr. Patrick Drohan, Associate Professor of Pedology, Penn State University

Adrian Galbraith-Paul, Farm Manager, Heritage Farm          

Robert Grey, Farm Education and Outreach Coordinator and Nick Lubecki, Braddock Farms Manager,  Grow Pittsburgh


12:30 – 1:30 p.m. | Lunch


1:30 – 3 p.m. | Stormwater and Resilience in Urban Soils

Moderator: Dr. Emily Elliott, Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences 

Dr. Dustin Herrmann, Research Scientist, ORISE Research Program with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Zinna Scott, Community Advocate, and Mike Hiller, Director of Policy and Outreach, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association 


3:15 – 4:45 p.m. | Urban Habitat, Trees, and Greenspace

Dale Hendricks, President, Green Light Plants

Miles Schwartz Sax, Arboretum Director, Connecticut College 

Stephen W. Miller | Local Manager, Bartlett Tree Experts


5:00 - 6:30 p.m. | Reception and Poster Session  


TRUSS is presented by the Urban Soil Working Group, an open collaboration of organizations working to improve urban soils in the Pittsburgh region. The event planning committee has representation from the following organizations: Allegheny County Conservation District, Phipps Conservatory, Grow Pittsburgh, PASA, and University of Pittsburgh Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences.