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New conservation award program comes to Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation, and ITC Holdings Corp., in partnership with the Sand County Foundation, bring the Leopold Conservation Award® program to Oklahoma.

“Governor Fallin is pleased that our agriculture community has come together to bring the Leopold Conservation Award to Oklahoma,” said Jim Reese, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture. “Farmers and ranchers in our state have long been leaders in conservation. From our early beginnings with the Dust Bowl to today, each generation has strived to leave the land better than they found it. Through this award, we will recognize an exceptional family and thank them for their contributions to a better Oklahoma.”

The Leopold Conservation award recognizes agricultural landowners actively committed to a land ethic. The award is a productive investment in private lands conservation. It recognizes and celebrates extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation by private landowners, inspires other landowners by example and provides a platform by which agricultural community leaders are recognized as conservation ambassadors to those outside of agriculture.

“This program provides a valuable opportunity here in Oklahoma to recognize our great land stewards, leaders in conservation and our communities for their benefit to our environment and society,” said Chad Ellis, Noble Foundation Center for Land Stewardship manager. “The Noble Foundation has been committed to conserving and improving the soils, and fostering sustainable agricultural practices by helping empower farmers and ranchers since 1945. We look forward to 70 more years of continuing these efforts.”

This program brings together agriculture, government, environmental organizations, industry and academia to advance the cause of private lands conservation.

“Oklahoma cattle ranchers have a great storied history of a strong and deep stewardship commitment to our natural resources,” said Michael Kelsey, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association executive vice president. “Partnering with other organizations of similar commitment through the Leopold Conservation Award is a natural and great way to share this important story. The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association is honored to be a part of this outstanding award.”

More than 90 percent of Oklahoma lands are privately owned. The common bond of all organizations and entities involved is a strong commitment to conservation stewardship on private lands, which is the most prominent land ownership model in Oklahoma.

"We are pleased to partner with these great organizations to bring the Leopold Conservation Award Program to Oklahoma,” said Jeramy Rich, Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation president. “This award fits well with our commitment to educating and advocating for our state's hard working farm and ranch families and their history of responsible environmental stewardship."

The inaugural award will be presented on Earth Day 2018 in Oklahoma City. Recipients will receive $10,000 and a crystal award, along with recognition through the Sand County Foundation as a 2018 Oklahoma recipient.

“We are pleased to support Sand County Foundation in bringing the Leopold Award to Oklahoma,” said Donna Zalewski, ITC Holdings Corp. director of Local Government, Community Affairs and Philanthropy. “Environmental responsibility is one of our core values, and it is reflected by our employees, at our facilities and in our operations. We are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of power in an environmentally responsible way to help protect land, water and species.”

Applications for the award are now being accepted. The $10,000 award will honor Oklahoma farmers, ranchers and other private landowners who voluntarily demonstrate outstanding stewardship and management of natural resources. Applications for the award must be postmarked by Aug. 31, 2017, and mailed to Amanda Rosholt at the Oklahoma Farming and Ranching Foundation, located at 2501 N Stiles in Oklahoma City.

For application information, please visit