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Lazy VJ Farms Receives 2017 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award

Wichita, Kansas - Sand County Foundation, the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) and the Ranchland Trust of Kansas (RTK), are proud to announce Lazy VJ Farms as the recipient of the 2017 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award®, which honors Kansas landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

Lazy VJ Farms is owned and managed by Rod Vorhees and his family. When Rod began taking on a leadership role at the farm and purchasing neighboring land in the 80s, he was eager to focus on improving land health. He converted all land with tillage history to permeant vegetative cover using cover crops, and established cool season plant communities that would complement the native prairie ecosystem and extend the time of available quality forage.

The pastures on the ranch are managed using rotational grazing. Cattle are moved from one paddock to another to allow for a period of rest and regrowth. The cattle are also rotated to different ecotypes throughout the year to help provide quality nutrition. Rod strives for optimum production rather than maximum production, and always does his best to also provide care for the often-forgotten components to land management such as nongame wildlife, pollinators and migrating species.

The abundant plant diversity on the ranch provides excellent wildlife habitat. The property has 2,000 continuous acres that includes cool and warm season varieties of native and introduced grasses, forbs, legumes, native timberland and riparian areas. Although Rod accommodates a small number of hunters on his land, he does not need to plant food plots to make the land an attractive place to hunt due to the plant diversity that brings in the game.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. It inspires other landowners through these examples and provides a visible forum where farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are recognized as conservation leaders. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, 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.”

The $10,000 award and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold was presented to the Vorhees family at the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts Annual Convention in Wichita on November 20. 

“The Kansas Association of Conservation Districts is proud to recognize the Vorhees family for their outstanding land stewardship,” said Dan Meyerhoff, KACD Executive Director. “Rod and his family exemplify Leopold’s land ethic – to leave their land better than they found it. Rod does this daily in his ranching operation and promotes this ethic through his leadership in conservation organizations at the local and state level.”

“The Vorhees family live and breathe conservation and land stewardship on a daily basis on their cow-calf and grass ranch operation,” said Bill Eastman, RTK Chair of the Board. “In addition, Rod should be commended and thanked for his inspirational leadership efforts at the local level and on the State Conservation Commission.” 

The Leopold Conservation Award Program in Kansas is made possible thanks to the generous support of Clean Line Energy Partners, USDA NRCS Kansas, Ducks Unlimited, ITC Great Plains, Westar Energy, Kansas State Forestry, and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Department of Agriculture.



The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. The award consists of $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold. Sand County Foundation presents Leopold Conservation Awards in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.


Sand County Foundation ( is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to working with private landowners across North America to advance ethical and scientifically sound land management practices that benefit the environment.


The Kansas Association of Conservation Districts ( is a voluntary, non-governmental, non-profit, incorporated organization composed of members from the conservation districts located throughout Kansas’ 105 counties. Through partnerships with federal, state, and local entities, the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts has brought together groups that share the common goal of wise and efficient conservation practices that protect Kansas’ natural resources. The Kansas Association of Conservation Districts promotes and supports the establishment of programs dedicated to conservation and the organized development of Kansas land, water and related resources.


The Ranchland Trust of Kansas ( is a private, non-profit organization founded by members of the Kansas Livestock Association in 2003. The organization was created to provide assistance to ranchers and landowners who desire to conserve their land with conservation easements. Guided by their mission to preserve Kansas’ ranching heritage and open spaces for future generations through the conservation of working landscapes, the Ranchland Trust of Kansas values a commitment to conservation, respect for private landownership, integrity, organizational excellence and collaboration with those who share their values. The Ranchland Trust of Kansas remains an affiliate of the Kansas Livestock Association.