The Leopold Conservation Award Applications Open to Illinois Farmers and Landowners
$10,000 will be awarded to stand-out conservationists
Conservation and regenerative agriculture practices are farming practices at the forefront of the climate solutions conversation, and a new award seeks to recognize farmers and landowners in Illinois who are dedicated to exceptional land stewardship. The Leopold Conservation Award is being presented in Illinois for the first time in 2023 by the Sand County Foundation in partnership with American Farmland Trust, Illinois Corn Growers Association, and the Illinois Soybean Association. The award is a prestigious recognition of outstanding achievement in voluntary conservation and the recipient will receive a cash prize of $10,000.
Illinois farmers and landowners going above and beyond to make sure their land is better than it was when they found it are following the example of Aldo Leopold’s land ethic. Traditional “ethics” direct all members of a community to treat one another with respect for the mutual benefit of all; “land ethics” expands “all” to include soils, waterways, plants, and animals, or “the land.” If you know an Illinois farmer or landowner who lives by “land ethics” and is passionate about conservation, nominate them for the Leopold Conservation Award.
American Farmland Trust has been working with some of Illinois’ most passionate farmers, conservationists, and landowners who have integrated “land ethics” into their land management. The farmers AFT works with improve soil health, reduce erosion, and protect water quality, and through education and outreach programs help raise awareness of conservation efforts and priorities.
“The Leopold Conservation Award does more than just honor exceptional conservationists,” stated Jean Brokish, Midwest Deputy Director for American Farmland Trust, ”it also inspires others to follow their example.”
By highlighting the work of these stand-out stewards, we can encourage more people to get involved in conservation and do their part to protect the land and adopt a “land ethic”. Additionally, by raising awareness of the important role that private landowners play in conservation, we can foster a greater appreciation for conservation efforts.
Although many people believe that conservation is the responsibility of governments and organizations, private landowners are essential to the success of conservation efforts. Nearly 97% of Illinois is privately owned, and this land is important for wildlife habitat, water quality, and biodiversity. By taking the initiative to conserve their land, Illinois farmers and private landowners can make a real difference in protecting our planet’s natural resources.
The Leopold Conservation Award is a prestigious recognition of the hard work and dedication of private landowners in Illinois, and across the country, who are committed to conserving their land. If you know someone who deserves this honor, consider nominating them for the 2023 award.