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Recipient Named for 2017 North Dakota Leopold Conservation Award®

Bismarck, North Dakota – Sand County Foundation, in partnership with the North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition, North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts and the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, is proud to announce Ken and Bonnie Miller as the recipients for the North Dakota Leopold Conservation Award®, which honors North Dakota landowner achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources.

The Millers own and manage Miller Ranch near Fort Rice with a focus on holistically managing all of their ecological, economic and social resources. They intensively and strategically manage their native rangelands, tame grasslands and perennial seeded irrigation pivots with grazing, focusing on short grazing periods with high stock density, followed by long recovery periods. In addition, they use low disturbance planting methods, cover crops and managed livestock grazing to create cropland soil that thrives on minimum inputs. Miller Ranch frequently hosts educational outreach events, and Ken has travelled around the world to share his experience with others.

The family strongly believes that soil makes up the foundation for everything they can accomplish in agriculture. According to Ken, “it’s the herd under the ground that we need to be managing”. As the family began focusing on building up the soil biology, the plants became healthier and resilient, giving their cattle more nutrition, which in turn produced healthier cattle.

The award program partners and sponsors also wish to congratulate the 2017 finalists for their contributions to agriculture and conservation: Jeremy and Sarah Wilson, who own and manage Wilson Farm in Jamestown, and Gene and Christine Goven, who own and manage a farm near Turtle Lake.

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 award will be presented on November 20 at the North Dakota Association of Soil and Conservation Districts convention. The Millers will receive $10,000 and a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold.

"You will not meet a more passionate, yet quietly humble farm family than the Millers,” said Joshua Dukart, Executive Director, North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition. Their land and social ethic personifies exactly what the Leopold Conservation Award is all about. It is not only their model of consistency year in and year out regardless of weather and/or market conditions that sets them apart, but it is their willingness to share and educate others on what they do and more importantly why they do it that truly brings to light their contribution to agriculture and society as a whole. The level of soil health and land resiliency on their ranch is a prime example of what agriculture can be. I am very excited for the Millers to be recognized with this prestigious award and for the rest of North Dakota and beyond to get to know the Millers."

“The North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts is proud to be a part of a unique partnership dedicated to bringing the Leopold Conservation Award to North Dakota,” said Brian Johnston, NDASCD. “NDASCD is excited to use our annual convention as the platform to award the winner of this prestigious award. We are proud to be a part of honoring our state’s best stewards of the land.”

The Leopold Conservation Award in North Dakota is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from Starion Financial, North Dakota Game & Fish Department, APEX Clean Energy, Audubon, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Cow Chip Ranch, Dakota Community Bank & Trust, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, KEM Electric Cooperative, The Nature Conservancy, North Dakota Department of Health, North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, North Dakota State University Foundation, Roughrider Electric Cooperative, Slope Electric Cooperative, The Wildlife Society North Dakota, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and World Wildlife Fund.


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, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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 NDGLC is a non-profit organization that believes through voluntary actions, respect for private property rights, and providing education on the values and multiple benefits of well managed grazing resources, the goals of promoting the health and sustainability of North Dakota's grazing lands are achievable. 

The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association is an 87-year-old non-profit trade organization representing North Dakota’s cattlemen and cattlewomen. 

The purpose of the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts is to further the widespread application of sound and practical soil and water conservation practices in North Dakota. Our goal is to provide quality membership services and nursery products to carry out the soil conservation program of the soil conservation districts of North Dakota.