empowering landowners Advancing a land ethic

Photo Credit: Nick Bristol

Farmers, ranchers and foresters who own and manage most of the private land in this nation hold the keys to environmental improvement. Their livelihoods are tied to the health of the land, but they urgently need information, data, and examples to follow to improve the environment while they produce food and fiber.

The next five to ten years represents an historic opportunity to scale up conservation on private land. Why? Because more than a third of American farmers and ranchers will soon transition their businesses to the next generation.

Now more than ever, Sand County Foundation needs your help to expand our capacity to engage with these landowners to improve water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat.


of the land in the contiguous U.S. is privately owned


of private land is productive, working land like farms, ranches and forests


of American citizens manage agricultural land

The Unmet Challenge

As the population increases, and pressure on our natural resources intensifies, we are faced with critical environmental challenges related to soil health, water quality and quantity, and fisheries and wildlife habitat. New approaches are needed to inspire and enable private landowners to address these issues while operating their businesses in an era of unprecedented change. Sand County Foundation is leading the way.

Recognizing Conservation Leadership

Our network of leading private land stewards has grown out of our Leopold Conservation Award® Program. This prestigious honor is given to outstanding farmers, ranchers and foresters for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation.

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Mentoring land stewards

Our Land Ethic Mentorship Program connects award-winning farmers and ranchers as conservation mentors for historically-underserved producers nationwide.

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Join Our Team

Sand County Foundation is seeking applicants for a Conservation Outreach/Equity Director position.

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Partner With Us

Your gift, no matter the size, helps Sand County Foundation build our capacity to engage with farmers, ranchers and forestland owners to improve water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat.

Upcoming Events

Iowa Water Environment Association 2022 Annual Conference

SCF's Bartlett Durand and Todd Peterson will present "Nutrient Reduction through Watersheds" at 1 p.m. on June 9.

June 8 to 9, 2022
Davenport , IA

Innovation Forum: The Future of Food USA

SCF's Dr. Heidi Peterson will speak at this gathering of leading brands and key stakeholders to identify the main areas of opportunity and innovation within the food and beverage industry. Speakers will assess what supply chain transformation means on the ground to ensure more resilient and regenerative food systems.

June 14 to 15, 2022
Minneapolis, MN

Sustainable Ag and Food Systems Funders' Forum

SCF's Bartlett Durand will be a panelist on June 20th.

June 20 to 22, 2022
Kansas City, MO
See all Events

“A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the axe] he is writing his signature on the face of the land."

- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

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