Leopold Conservation Award Comes to Illinois

Sand County Foundation

Dec 06, 2022  |  Today's News |  ICMB |  Conservation |  Precision Conservation Management

A prestigious award program celebrating voluntary conservation on farmland and forestland is coming to Illinois.


The Leopold Conservation Award® recognizes agricultural landowners who inspire others with their dedication to ethical land, water and wildlife habitat management. The award is named in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac”, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.


Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust annually present the Leopold Conservation Award to farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners in 25 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In Illinois, the award is presented with state partners: IL Corn and Illinois Soybean Association.


Owners of farm and forest land in Iowa may apply for the award themselves or be nominated by another party. The Illinois application can be found at www.sandcountyfoundation.org/ApplyLCA.


Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. The application deadline is April 1, 2023.


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


“IL Corn is excited to bring the Leopold Conservation Award to Illinois, as one more way to recognize the farmers that are doing important conservation work within our state,” said Jim Reed, IL Corn Chairman and farmer from DeLand. “Together with the Illinois Soybean Association, our organizations are committed to helping farmers meet the goals of the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. Our commitment pushes us to notice farmers that are putting their best conservation foot forward, farmers that are sharing their conservation implementation trials and errors with their peers, and farmers that are pushing us all to be better stewards of our land.”


“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.


“Together with IL Corn, the Illinois Soybean Association is a proud new steward of the Leopold Conservation Award, to acknowledge and show appreciation for Illinois farmers who invest in the preservation of agriculture for future generations,” said Brady Holst, ISA At-Large Director and Utilization Committee Chair. “By recognizing those outstanding farmers, we hope to encourage more to follow their lead and take the step toward implementing conservation practices on their acres.”


“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.”


The Illinois Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of American Farmland Trust, IL Corn, Illinois Soybean Association, Sand County Foundation, Haglund Ecology Fund, Farm Credit Illinois, American Farmland Trust of Illinois, Association of Illinois Water & Soil Conservation Districts, Illinois Department of Agriculture, Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership, The Nature Conservancy, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service of Illinois.


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LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD PROGRAM is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). www.leopoldconservationaward.org


AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through its No Farms, No Food message. Since its founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families. www.farmland.org  


IL CORN is made up of two farmer-led organizations that serve corn farmers in Illinois: IL Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and IL Corn Marketing Board (ICMB). ICGA represents the interests of Illinois corn farmers in Washington, DC and Springfield, IL, while ICMB is focused on growing demand, creating new markets, and fostering understanding of corn farmers and the corn industry. Through these two organizations, IL Corn seeks to position corn farmers to create and capture profit opportunities, preserve their independence, and prosper for generations. www.ilcorn.org


ILLINOIS SOYBEAN ASSOCIATION (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development and utilization efforts while the membership program supports the government relations interests of Illinois soybean farmers at the local, state, and national level, through the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG). ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education with the vision of becoming a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org and www.ilsoygrowers.com.


SAND COUNTY FOUNDATION inspires and empowers a growing number of private landowners to ethically manage natural resources in their care, so future generations have clean and abundant water, healthy soil to support agriculture and forestry, plentiful habitat for wildlife and opportunities for outdoor recreation. www.sandcountyfoundation.org