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Three Finalists Selected for Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award

Three finalists have been selected for the prestigious 2019 Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award®.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes private landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife resources in their care.

In Kentucky, the $10,000 award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, the Kentucky Agricultural Council, and the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts.

The finalists are:

  • Dr. James W. Middleton of Munfordville in Hart County: Dr. Middleton turned former row crop fields into pastures, native grasslands, and alfalfa and clover hay fields. He has planted more than 800,000 hardwood seedlings along the Green River. Areas designated for wildlife and insect pollinator habitat have been developed. In addition to raising beef cattle, a commercial hunting business and timber sales from managed forests provide additional farm revenue.
  • F.L. Sipes Farm of Ekron in Meade County: Fred Sipes raises tobacco, soybeans, corn, wheat, hay, produce and beef cattle. He has reduced soil erosion and improved water quality by installing grassed waterways, planting cover crops, and implementing crop rotations and no-till practices on his land. He uses rotational grazing practices to feed his cattle. These conservation practices have improved soil health, and wildlife habitat found on the farm.
  • JRS Angus Farm on Lawrenceburg in Anderson County: James R. ‘Buddy’ and Sandie Smith grow cover crops and use rotational grazing to feed their herd of beef cattle. Conservation practices have been implemented across the farm’s pastures, hay fields, and forests to reduces soil erosion and improve water quality. In addition to raising pumpkins, the Smiths have also planted areas in vegetation that attract wildlife and insect pollinators.

The award will be presented at the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts Convention on July 9, 2019.

“The Kentucky Agricultural Council is proud to once again partner with the Sand County Foundation and the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts to recognize exceptional stewardship and conservation practices among Kentucky’s private landowners,” said John W. McCauley, Kentucky Agricultural Council’s immediate past chair. “The finalists for the 2019 Leopold Award are extraordinary.”

“KACD and conservation districts promote the sound management of all our natural resources and we are excited to join Sand County Foundation and the Kentucky Agricultural Council in recognizing these well deserving landowners in Kentucky,” said Shane Wells, Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts President. “The Association and conservation districts work daily to assist private landowners in their efforts to adopt sound soil and water conservation practices on their land that benefit us all.”

“Leopold Conservation Award recipients are at the forefront of a movement by America’s farmers and ranchers to simultaneously achieve economic and environmental success,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer.

The Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award is made possible thanks to the generous support and partnership of Kentucky Agricultural Council, Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts, Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Kentucky Corn Growers Association, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Kentucky Woodland Owner’s Association, Kentucky Tree Farm Committee, Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, AgriBusiness Association of Kentucky, Kentucky Pork Producers, The Nature Conservancy in Kentucky, and the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 20 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation.

For more information on the award, visit

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The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont).


Sand County Foundation inspires and enables a growing number of private landowners to ethically manage natural resources in their care, so future generations have clean and abundant water, healthy soil to support agriculture and forestry, plentiful habitat for wildlife and opportunities for outdoor recreation.


The Kentucky Agricultural Council is a 501(c)(3) organization consisting of some 80 agricultural organizations representing all sectors of Kentucky agriculture. The membership is composed of commodity groups, state and federal agricultural organizations, agricultural trade organizations and the state’s institutions of higher education that serve Kentucky agriculture. The KAC functions as an umbrella group and hub for its members, disseminating information and promoting coordination among all agricultural organizations and sectors. Since 2006, the KAC also has served as the “steward of strategic planning” for the future of Kentucky agriculture and Kentucky’s rural communities.


The Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts is 501(c)(3) organization consisting of Kentucky’s local conservation districts and watershed conservancy districts. KACD encourages the exchange of information relating to the administration and operation of conservation districts and watershed conservancy districts; to affect cooperation between districts and agencies and organizations concerned with any and all phases of soil and water conservation; to promote the welfare of conservation districts and watershed conservancy districts and the people therein; and to maintain strong and active membership in both KACD and the National Association of Conservation Districts.

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