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Finalists Selected for Maryland Leopold Conservation Award

Four finalists have been selected for the 2023 Maryland Leopold Conservation Award®.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water, and wildlife habitat management on private, working lands.

In Maryland, the Leopold Conservation Award is presented by Sand County Foundation with state partners Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts, and Maryland Farm Bureau Inc. Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award in 27 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation.

The finalists are:

David and Belinda Burrier of Union Bridge in Frederick County: The Burriers have adopted a variety of conservation practices to prevent soil erosion and compaction at their farm. By installing grass waterways and buffer strips amid their grain and hay fields, they are protecting water quality in the Chesapeake Bay tributary that bisects their farm’s highly erodible land.

Daniel A. Donohue of Accokeek in Charles and Prince George counties: Daniel Donohue takes steps to protect water quality on his farm and forestland located just two miles from the Potomac River. He rotationally grazes a herd of beef cattle, and uses bale grazing in the winter to prevent erosion. Clover is planted each spring to promote soil health, and provide a nutrient source for insect pollinators.

Mount Pleasant Acres Farms of Preston in Caroline County: Donna Dear and Paulette Green’s farm is a showcase of forestry management and organic fruit and vegetable production. They also manage their forests and wetlands to provide habitat for insect pollinators, songbirds, game birds, and other wildlife. The farm’s ties to Black history are also noteworthy as a former stop along the Underground Railroad.

Persimmon Tree Farm of Westminster in Carroll County: At Carolyn Krome’s horse farm, pastures are managed to avoid erosion and over-grazing. Warm season grasses are kept vibrant with prescribed burns. Restored wetlands and streambanks provide wildlife habitat. Five acres of wildflowers are regularly weeded and maintained to attract insect pollinators.

Earlier this year, Maryland landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the award. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. The award recipient will be recognized at the Maryland Farm Bureau Annual Convention later this year.

The recipient receives a $10,000 award, and the conservation success found on their farm, ranch or forest will be featured in a professional video. Last year’s recipient was Caleb and Alice Crothers (Long Green Farms) of Rising Sun in Cecil County.


“I’m so glad to see this group of finalists getting well-deserved recognition for the diversity of conservation practices they implement on their working lands. Their thoughtful stewardship inspires others, as does their extensive engagement as community leaders. Congratulations to all the finalists! Thank you for working so hard to achieve excellent results,” said Samantha Campbell, Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment President.

“As Maryland farmers, it’s our responsibility to be stewards of the land. The Maryland Farm Bureau is proud to support the mission of the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, and we congratulate the amazing Maryland farm families who truly exemplify the spirit of conservation in our great state,” said Wayne Stafford, Maryland Farm Bureau President.

“These award finalists are examples of how Aldo Leopold’s land ethic is alive and well today. Their dedication to conservation shows how individuals can improve the health of the land while producing food and fiber,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and CEO.

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the Maryland award finalists,” 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 Leopold Conservation Award is given to farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners across the U.S. 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.

The Maryland Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of American Farmland Trust, Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, Maryland Farm Bureau Inc., Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts, Sand County Foundation, Maryland Department of Agriculture, Horizon Farm Credit, Delmarva Chicken Association, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Conservancy, ShoreRivers, and The Nature Conservancy.

Burrier MD 23

David and Belinda Burrier of Union Bridge in Frederick County

MD Donohue

Daniel A. Donohue of Accokeek in Charles and Prince George counties

MD Krome

Persimmon Tree Farm of Westminster in Carroll County - Carolyn Krome

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Mount Pleasant Acres Farms of Preston in Caroline County - Donna Dear and Paulette Green


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

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 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families.


The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment’s 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 and a better quality of life. The Foundation provides approximately $7 million in funding through more than 150 grants annually, and has been funding in the region since 1998.

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 basis 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.

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.