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Leopold Conservation Award Comes to Maryland

A prestigious award program celebrating voluntary conservation by farmers and forestland owners is coming to Maryland.

The Leopold Conservation Award® recognizes landowners who inspire others with their voluntary dedication to ethical land, water and wildlife habitat management on working land. The award is 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 and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to farmers, ranchers and forestland owners in 23 states. In Maryland, the award is presented with state partners Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts (MASCD), and Maryland Farm Bureau.

Owners of farm and forestland in Maryland may apply for the award themselves or be nominated by another party. The Maryland application can be found at www.sandcountyfoundation.org/ApplyLCA.

The recipient receives a $10,000 award and appearance in a feature video on the conservation success found on their farm or forest. The recipient will be announced at the Maryland Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention and Meeting of Delegates on December 6. The application deadline is August 31, 2021. Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders.

“Maryland farmers have long been national leaders in science-based environmental conservation,” said John Torres, Maryland Farm Bureau executive director. “Farm Bureau and our partners want to recognize the work that our farming community has done and will continue to do to ensure the protection of our natural resources through this award. Our members are committed to growing and raising food in a sustainable and responsible way that allows for the continuation of the farming tradition here in The Old Line State,” he said.

Bruce Yerkes, MASCD president, said, “Recognizing exceptional farm stewardship is so important in our region, where the agricultural community carries so much of the responsibility for meeting water quality goals. The Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts is excited to work with the Maryland Farm Bureau and Sand County Foundation to bring the Leopold Conservation Award to our state."

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation president and CEO. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of farmers, ranchers and forestland owners,” said John Piotti, AFT president and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

The Maryland Leopold Conservation Award is also made possible through the generous support of Maryland Department of Agriculture, MidAtlantic Farm Credit, Delmarva Chicken Association, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Conservancy, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, ShoreRivers, and The Nature Conservancy.

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KEITH CAMPBELL FOUNDATION FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment was established in 1998 to improve the conditions of the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays. In 2003, the geographic focus of The Campbell Foundation expanded to include California and the San Francisco Bay watershed. The mission in the Chesapeake Bay Region is to improve water quality and ecological balance in the Bay and its rivers, as a healthy bay fosters a vibrant regional economy and provides exceptional recreational opportunities. The Campbell Foundation’s Pacific Initiative strives to identify opportunities in the field that a) are gaining political momentum, b) present a great opportunity to leverage resources of all kinds, and c) are innovative from a business and social perspective.

MARYLAND ASSOCIATION OF SOIL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS serves as the voice of Maryland’s 24 soil and water conservation districts on state legislative issues. It also provides a forum for training, policy-making and the exchange of information at their annual and quarterly gatherings. Its mission is to promote practical and effective soil, water, and related natural resources programs to all citizens through individual conservation districts on a voluntary bases through leadership, education, cooperation and local direction.

MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that serves as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 12,000 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau® Federation.

LEOPOLD CONSERVATION AWARD PROGRAM is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Sand County Foundation presents the award in California, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont). www.leopoldconservationaward.org

SAND COUNTY FOUNDATION inspires and empowers 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. www.sandcountyfoundation.org

AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through its No Farms, No Food message. Since its founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families. www.farmland.org

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