As a first year PhD student, the Summer Soil Institute (SSI) at Colorado State University was an excellent opportunity to learn from and network with top soil scientists. The SSI is one of the leading programs for soil science education in the country. It provides a venue to formally learn valuable soil analysis techniques that can be applied to participants’ research. The curriculum for the two-week course involved field sampling, sample processing, and a broad and informative series of lectures on soil pedology, chemistry, microbiology, and gas fluxes. I participated in this year’s program, and described my experience in a detailed two-part story on my blog. Part I (here) describes my first week’s experience in soil sample collection and chemical analyses, while Part II (here) covers the second week’s experience in soil biological analyses.