South Dakota’s Cammack Family Nationally Recognized for Stewardship Efforts
February 17, 2017
The National Association of Conservation Districts honored some of our country's most influential conservation leaders during NACD's 71st Annual Meeting in Denver, CO. The South Dakota 2017 Legislature then applauded and recognized by commemoration one of their members who was so honored by NACD.
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service Acting Chief Leonard Jordan and NACD President Lee McDaniel presented the NACD/NRCS Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award to Gary and Amy Cammack and family of Union Center, SD. The award honors past NACD President Olin Sims of McFaddden, WY, who was killed in a ranching accident during his presidential term. Noted for his commitment, leadership and dedication to conservation issues, Mr. Sims served as a powerful voice for conservation.
Gary and Amy have paved the way for conservation adoption in their state as steadfast advocates for stewardship and civic engagement. Gary Cammack served in the South Dakota House of Representatives and currently serves in the Senate where he chairs the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. He is a past Meade County Commissioner and 2016 President of SD Retailers Association. Amy, too, is dedicated to serving others. She has been on the Sturgis Community Hospital Board since 1995, and is a volunteer emergency medical technician (EMT) for the Rural Meade Ambulance Service.
In 2016, the nationally televised program "Out on the Land" on RFD TV not only featured Gary and Amy for their stewardship, but also provided unique program content through the message of civic engagement and encouraging involvement in organizations.
The Cammacks host ranch tours for Rapid City School District students to help people understand where their food comes from and why we should conserve our natural resources. In 2012, the Cammacks hosted the World Wildlife Fund's Regional Advisory Panel at their ranch, driving home the idea that cattle and wildlife can, and should, co-exist. In 2014, they hosted the South Dakota Grassland Coalition's Annual Bird Tour where natural resource and bird enthusiasts, adults and children, came to experience ranch life with a focus on the bird species found living there.
Gary and Amy are outstanding examples for conservation efforts, recognizing that a number of USDA technical and financial assistance programs helped them meet their operation's stewardship objectives. Most importantly, they are unafraid of failure when it comes to trying new conservation practices. If they believe it will benefit their operation, wildlife, and the environment they are all in! Their ranch supply business makes them a billboard for conservation efforts, and they regularly show other producers the successes (and failures) of the things they've tried—both one-on-one and in tour formats. An example of the Cammack's unique thinking includes plans for a horseback rangeland health tour in 2017 with the purpose of reaching new segments of society for increasing their understanding of agriculture.
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They are members of numerous agricultural and conservation organizations including: National Cattlemen's Beef Association; SD Farm Bureau; SD Farmers Union; SD Retailers Association; SD Cattlemen's Association; SD Stockgrowers; and SD Grassland Coalition. Gary and Amy's involvement does not stop there. They also participate in partnerships with the USDI-Fish & Wildlife Service; SD Grassland Coalition; South Dakota State University; Elk Creek Conservation District; Ducks Unlimited; National Wild Turkey Federation; SD Department of Game, Fish & Parks; and the Belle Fourche River Watershed Partnership.
The Cammacks' legacy of leadership and stewardship is evidenced by the constant presence and involvement of their adult children and grandchildren in ranch daily activities. Some of their children are also the second generation to participate in the SD Ag & Rural Leadership Program.