Are you interested in applying for the Leopold Conservation Award? Do you know someone that should be recognized for their conservation efforts?
Conservation pays in Wisconsin. Not only does the soil and water benefit from conservation practices, but so could your pocketbook. The Leopold Conservation Award includes a $10,000 prize.
Lance Irving, Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award National Program Manager, offered some advice for farmers thinking about applying for the award.
“The most common barrier is there are a lot of great farmers, ranchers and foresters that are doing amazing things that always think that someone else is doing something better,” shared Irving.
Irving noted that age is not a consideration factor in the selection process. Younger generations are completely eligible to apply and win the award.
“It’s about being able to tell their story on how they are making the best of their opportunities. The judging process isn’t asking for a list of specific practices,” said Irving.
The award highlights how each farm and landscape is unique and comes with its own set of challenges. Applicants are judged on how they are overcoming those challenges and positively contributing to their resources.
Conservation is a tool in the toolbox to help the farmer be economically successful. This economic success aids in the goal of turning the land over to the next generation to continue that legacy.
Inviting a third-party individual to be involved in the application process may help open your eyes to the unique things you are doing on your farm. The examples of conservation on your farm may be common practice to you, but they are still groundbreaking, innovative and essential for progress.
Sometimes it takes a trusted individual sitting down with the farmer and having a conversation about what is happening on the farm. Involve a partner that works with your operation regularly. They can help recall projects and programs that are noteworthy to be included in the application.
“I would encourage farmers that are willing to apply themselves to be open to involving someone they have worked with to edit and read through the materials,” advised Irving.
It is easy to assume that “everyone is doing it” or “someone else is doing more/better than me”. All levels of conservation are noteworthy and essential to continue advancing towards our goals.
If you or someone you know is doing innovative conservation practices, consider applying or nominating them for the Leopold Conservation Award.
Sand County Foundation proudly presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners dedicated to leaving their land better than how they found it. They exemplify the spirit of Leopold’s land ethic. In Wisconsin, Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award in partnership with American Farmland Trust, and state partners: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. The Leopold Conservation Award recipient receives $10,000 and a crystal award.
Leopold Conservation Awards recognize extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation, inspire other landowners through their example, and help the general public understand the vital role private landowners play in conservation success.
Rachel Gerbitz is WFBF’s Director of Sustainability Communications and Partnerships. In her role, she oversees the organization’s sustainability communication efforts. Rachel grew up in Rock County where she was involved in 4-H and the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association. She now lives in Kaukauna. In her spare time, Rachel manages her small herd of registered Jersey cattle.