Leopold Conservation Award Comes to New York
March 12, 2020
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball has announced a new partnership with the Sand County Foundation to enhance New York State’s annual Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Award by combining it with the nationally recognized Leopold Conservation Award program.
The Leopold Conservation Award program will enhance the AEM Award through new award criteria, an independent judging process, a $10,000 cash award, and a comprehensive promotional campaign to advance conservation in agriculture.
The Leopold Conservation Award is presented by Sand County Foundation to farmers, ranchers and foresters in 21 states for ethically managing natural resources for improved water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat.
"It is with great enthusiasm that I announce a new partnership that will celebrate voluntary conservation by farmers and forestland owner," said Commissioner Ball. "Partnering with the Sand County Foundation to present the first-ever New York AEM - Leopold Conservation Award makes perfect sense as we recognize landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management and who are dedicated to leaving the land better than how they found it. We thank the Sand County Foundation for collaborating with us to host this most distinguished award."
"Leopold Conservation Award recipients are at the forefront of a movement by America’s farmers, ranchers and foresters to simultaneously achieve economic and environmental success," said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO. "We are proud to partner with the Department of Agriculture and Markets to bring the Leopold Conservation Award program to New York State."
Applications for the first New York AEM Leopold Conservation Award are now being accepted, with county Soil and Water Conservation Districts applying on behalf of the farm. Eligible candidates successfully incorporate AEM Best Management Practices into the management of the farm, which also assist the landowner in meeting business and environmental goals. Applicants should demonstrate conservation leadership and outreach in the agricultural sector and be an inspiration to other landowners.
The annual award will be presented at Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls in July. Award recipients will be featured in a video promoting their conservation practices.
"For almost a quarter of a century, our State’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts have been implementing voluntary conservation stewardship on our farms using the AEM principles as the framework for success," said Dale Stein, New York State Soil and Water Conservation District Chair. "We are honored to host this most distinguished award recognizing an individual or a farm family and supporting a Conservation District dedicated to the implementation of sound land management practices that benefit all New Yorkers."
Applications for the New York AEM Leopold Conservation Award must be received by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets by May 15. Nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel of conservation leaders. Interested candidates should contact their local county Soil and Water Conservation District. Contact information can be found at https://agriculture.ny.gov/soil-and-water/soil-water-conservation-district-offices.
The award is made possible through the support of American Farmland Trust, Cornell Cooperative Extension, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Sand County Foundation, The Ida and Robert Gordon Family Foundation, Farm Credit East and other sponsors.
ABOUT THE LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD PROGRAM
The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. It is given to farmers, ranchers, and foresters across the United States in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold. In his influential 1949 book, “A Sand County Almanac,” Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). Learn more at www.leopoldconservationaward.org
ABOUT THE NEW YORK STATE AEM AWARD
New York State’s annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award winners are chosen from nominees submitted by County Soil and Water Conservation Districts from around the state. The first Agricultural Environmental Management Award was presented in 2002; prior to that, the award was known as the Agricultural Stewardship Award. New York State’s AEM framework is a model for the nation as a voluntary, incentive-based approach to protect natural resources and meet the economic needs of the agricultural community.