Photo Credit: Nick Bristol

The Sand County Foundation Difference

Sand County Foundation looks at environmental challenges differently. Our entrepreneurial approach and ability to partner with organizations and communities across the spectrum has been our hallmark for nearly 50 years. Our sole focus is supporting voluntary conservation on working lands through ethics, science and incentives. Values of liberty, voluntary action, property rights and civic duty are at our core. 

We believe private landowners have the ability to apply conservation on their land in a way that benefits their business and the environment, and that collaboration, not litigation, leads to the most enduring environmental improvements.

Our Roots

In 1967, Sand County Foundation created a successful partnership among a group of private landowners to protect the land surrounding the famous “Shack” property of Aldo Leopold, America’s foremost conservation thinker. This pioneering cooperative venture led landowners to commit to voluntary conservation while raising awareness of Leopold’s land ethic, which inspires thousands of other owners of working land.

When Leopold wrote his visionary A Sand County Almanac, published in 1949, he introduced conservation ideas that penetrated the public’s conscience just as much then as they do today. Leopold advanced individual responsibility for private land management, and recognized that a landowner’s profitability and economic growth are tied to conservation success. Since its publication, A Sand County Almanac has been described as the most influential conservation book. It remains a best selling environmental book, demonstrating how relevant these ideas are today.

We’ve come a long way since mobilizing our first landowner partners to conserve Leopold’s sandy farmland in Wisconsin. Today, our impact spans the U.S., and is a direct reflection of what our donors and partners can achieve when landowners are encouraged to lead the way to improving our nation’s natural resources.

Our Work

Our mission is to advance the use of ethical and scientifically-sound land management practices and partnerships for the benefit of people and the environment.

Sand County Foundation is laser focused on enabling private landowners to realize their full potential as conservationists and profitable stewards of the natural resources in their care. Through our partnerships and initiatives, Sand County Foundation’s work will ensure a future in which private landowners have the inspiration and freedom to improve the environment while responsibly producing food and fiber for a growing population.

Our work:

  • Supports private individuals and communities as primary agents of conservation and land management
  • Rewards responsible stewards and provides public recognition for outstanding private land leadership
  • Facilitates the exchange of information between private individuals, scientists, funders and policy makers
  • Removes barriers and creates meaningful incentives for landowners who enhance the environment
  • Creates on the land examples of environmental improvement suitable for replication


Sand County Foundation grants may not be used for indirect costs, overhead, or other expenses not directly related to the project. Funds may not be used for legal actions, land acquisitions, endowments, lobbying, electioneering, or construction of buildings.

Sand County Foundation will not consider unsolicited proposals.