Cattlemen’s Corner: Leopold Conservation Award |

Cattlemen’s Corner: Leopold Conservation Award

Judging from the recent forecast, spring is just around the corner. Here at the Slovek Ranch we’re busy calving and gearing up for our annual production sale in April. It’s also time to start thinking about the Leopold Conservation Award. After a successful first year, we’re excited to announce that we are now taking nominees for the 2011 Leopold Conservation Award.

In his influential book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.” Presented by the Sand County Foundation (based in Wisconsin) in honor of Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation and provides a visible forum where leaders from the agricultural community are recognized as conservation leaders outside of the industry.

Last year marked the inaugural year for the Leopold Conservation Award in South Dakota, which honors South Dakota landowners who demonstrate responsible stewardship and management of natural resources. The South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association was honored to join forces with the South Dakota Grassland Coalition and Sand County Foundation to bring this outstanding award to South Dakota last year. We were pleased with the strong support from across the state, from the number of quality nominees we received to the generosity of financial contributors. It’s a true testament of how much agriculture is appreciated by South Dakota’s citizens. The 2010 winners were recognized with a cash prize of $10,000 and a Leopold crystal during the SDCA annual convention on Dec. 1. The support for this award was again evident by a sold out banquet that night.

The 2010 winners were Rick and Marlis Doud of Midland. The Douds aren’t only outstanding stewards of the land, but they also reach out to others through a great deal of community involvement and educational opportunities that promote the importance of sustainable agriculture. In fact, Rick recently conducted a free seminar at Capitol University Center in Pierre highlighting the Leopold Conservation Award and the stewardship practices on his ranch. This is a great example of how farmers and ranchers can tell their story to the public and remind them that we are true environmentalists. Also, mark your calendars for the Doud Ranch tour scheduled for July 29 and watch the Grassland Coalition’s Web site,, for more details.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2011 Leopold Conservation Award. Anyone can nominate a private landowner for the annual award and self-nominations are also accepted. Nominees will be evaluated on the following criteria: responsible management, sustainable revenues, leadership, innovation, outreach, and overall land health. Nomination information can be found at Nominations must be postmarked by April 27, 2011 and mailed to SDCA at 215 E. Prospect Ave., Pierre, SD 57501. Nominations will also be accepted by e-mail if received by the April 27 deadline – send to The 2011 winners will be honored at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s Annual Convention in December.

Remember, the health of our landscape depends on hard working farmers and ranchers who dedicate themselves to ensuring that the land, water and wildlife are left in better shape than the way they found it. If you know someone deserving of the Leopold Award, please take time to nominate them and honor them for their hard work.

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