A prestigious award program that celebrates voluntary conservation efforts on farms and forestland is coming to Minnesota.

The Leopold Conservation Award® honors farmers and forestland owners who above and beyond in their management of soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat on working land.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor, American Farmland Trust, present Leopold Conservation Awards to private landowners in 27 states. In Minnesota the award is presented with state partners: Minnesota Soil Health Coalition, and Soil Regen.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to environmental improvement. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold called for “a land ethic,” an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner, or landowners may apply themselves. The Minnesota application can be found at www.sandcountyfoundation.org/ApplyLCA.

Applications are reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders from Minnesota.

The application deadline date is July 1, 2024. Applications must be emailed to award@sandcountyfoundation.org.

The award recipient receives $10,000, and their conservation success story will be featured in a video and in other outreach.

The Minnesota Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of American Farmland Trust, Minnesota Soil Health Coalition, Soil Regen, Sand County Foundation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, General Mills, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Audubon Minnesota, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, Minnesota Corn, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Ducks Unlimited, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Farmers Union, Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council, Pheasants Forever, Renovo Seed, Saddle Butte Ag Inc., and The Nature Conservancy.

“Soil Regen believes that the foundation of ag starts from the ground up,” said Liz Haney of Soil Regen. “We are honored to support the many and varied conservationists celebrated with the Leopold Conservation Award. They are the true stewards of the land.”

“The Minnesota Soil Health Coalition is leading conservation through farmers helping other farmers. We are excited to see farmers honored for their good stewardship of the land,” said Mark Gutierrez, Minnesota Soil Health Coalition Executive Director.

“NRCS Minnesota supports the Leopold Conservation Award because it recognizes farmers, ranchers and forest owners who show a strong conservation commitment through action as stewards of working lands,” said Troy Daniell, State Conservationist.

“Leopold Conservation Award recipients are examples of how Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is alive and well today. Their dedication to conservation shows how individuals can improve the health of the land while producing food and fiber,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO.

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of farmers, ranchers and forestland owners,” said John Piotti, AFT President and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

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